By: Duane Craig
Property owners near Reading, Penn. got news recently that lead contamination left over from using old batteries as fill material will likely never be completely cleaned up. The affected area is on Mt. Laurel Road in Alsace Township. People who attended a recent town meeting about planned cleanup efforts also remembered collecting battery caps from the crushed carcasses of discarded batteries when they were children.
Samples taken at four residences showed elevated levels of lead, with one having concentrations seven times the acceptable limit. A nearby well also exceeded the acceptable levels of lead, however, an official with the Department of Environmental Protection said he thought that contamination was more likely from lead solder that was used in the plumbing system.
In 2011, property owners noticed what appeared to be battery casings in random places within their yards. The DEP investigated and confirmed the material was indeed battery casings. The agency took surface soil samples and confirmed the contamination at three of the properties. A check of surface water and stream sediment found no lead contamination.
Cleanup plans include excavating and removing the battery casing material as well as the contaminated soil. Following that, work crews will grade the area and plant grass. The cost of the project is expected to be $500,000.
Even after the cleanup is complete, the DEP said, the properties will still end up having environmental covenants on them that will alert future owners to the lead contamination history. You can read a news article on this topic here, and a statement from the DEP here.