Cleanup underway for homes next to former Louisville pesticide - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Cleanup underway for homes next to former Louisville pesticide factory

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Cleanup is now underway for homes located next to a former Louisville pesticide factory.  But not every home will be cleaned up.

Some of the 33 homes that will not be clean up are vacant.  But in other cases, homeowners can't be reached, and some have refused.

Crews are busy on Wilson Avenue, cleaning up the backyards to homes next to the old Black Leaf Chemical site.  Investigations found the former pesticide factory left behind dangerous chemicals.

Tim Hubbard of the Ky. Dept. for Environmental Protection explains, "We found elevated levels of pesticide, lead, arsenic, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons -- also known as PAHs."

Just as alarming is what they found in the backyards of some homes on Wilson Avenue and St. Louis Street -- elevated levels of contamination.

Hubbard says, "Ten of the properties have elevated levels that exceed EPA's cleanup standards. The other 34 have levels that exceed Kentucky's standards."

It's a joint effort between state and federal officials to get the 44 backyards cleaned up, removing a foot of soil and then replacing it with clean fill and sod. There are still 33 homes they don't yet have permission to clean up that are either vacant or the homeowner refused. Denise Dickerson's backyard will have to be cleaned up.  "What they're doing now," she says, "digging up 12 inches of dirt, bring fresh dirt, putting down sod, is like putting a Band-Aid on a machete cut."

She says she still doesn't feel safe and plans to stay inside during the 3-month process to avoid dust coming from the work, which officials say they're monitoring. Dickerson says she'd also like to see the chemical site cleaned up, but either way is skeptical of the process, saying, "Everything that's buried back there, either you leave it there and we're still in harm's way or you dig it up and expose us even more. Either way, it's a lose-lose situation."

State and federal environmental agencies will be paying for the cleanup, which will cost between $1.1 million and $1.8 million.

Residents are encouraged to keep their doors and windows closed during the soil cleanup, and to avoid the area where exposed dirt is present, if possible.

Copyright 2013 WDRB News.  All rights reserved.

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