A cleanup project at a home in southwest Portland is removing 20 tons of contaminated soil left behind by a lead smelter that was demolished in 1975.
The duplex on SW Flower Street doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary. The lawn is green. There’s a Japanese maple growing in the yard.
But testing shows the earth underneath that greenery is extremely toxic.
Scott Manzano is a cleanup project manager for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
He says some of the soil around the duplex has 150 times more lead in it than his agency considers to be a human health risk.
Manzano explained, “So that’s a very high concentration and that’s why that’s being removed as a hazardous material that’s going to go to Arlington.”
He’s referring to the hazardous waste landfill in Eastern Oregon.
The Flower Street duplex was flagged by a USA Today investigation of abandoned metal factories nationwide.
DEQ is investigating several other properties in the neighborhood that might need similar cleanups.
Find more of Cassandra’s environmental reporting on her Ecotrope blog.