02/06/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/05/2023 19:55
(February 3, 2023)
Mayor Jean Stothert accepted more than $34 million dollars from the Environmental Protection Agency and Housing and Urban Development to continue lead cleanup programs in Omaha's Superfund site.
The EPA renewed its cooperative agreement with the City of Omaha to remove lead from contaminated years, presenting a check for $34.3 million. HUD funds, totaling $4.4 million will pay to remove lead-based paint hazards in 160 homes.
"Every child, every family, should live in a safe and healthy environment," said Mayor Stothert. "We have made tremendous progress in Omaha, however, children are still at risk. The continuation of our co-operative agreement with the EPA makes safer and healthier homes for families and children possible."
Omaha became an EPA Superfund site in 1999, after an investigation found a high incidence of children with elevated blood lead levels. The investigation determined two industrial plants, Asarco and Gould Electronics, both formerly located in downtown Omaha, had released toxic levels of lead particles for decades, which then fell to surrounding properties, contaminating the soil.
The boundaries of the Omaha site are from Harrison Street on the south, north to Read Street and from the Missouri River on the east to 56th Street on the west.
"This is the EPA's commitment to environmental justice, said Ed Chu, EPA Deputy Regional Administrator. "Equal access to healthy living is a basic human right.
Over the last 20 years, soil testing has been completed on more than 42,000 properties within the Superfund boundaries; there are 164 properties still to test and 562 to be remediated. The percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels has fallen from 36% to less than 2%.
"We've made tremendous progress through soil testing, remediation and removal, lead paint testing, and indoor dust sampling. Continued funding from your agencies will help us reach our goals," said Mayor Stothert.
"We are committed here for the long haul," said Chu.