|Of 44 properties tested in the tornado-stricken area for mine waste contaminants like lead and cadmium the city of Joplin has reported that "19 have tested above the acceptable yard average level of 400 parts per million" as established by the Environmental Protection Agency.
To address the issue, the city developed a "Mine Your Own Property" fact sheet that is attached to each building permit issued. Due to the test results in the tornado-affected area, the city is urging residents to test their soil before they start to rebuild.
As the soil test results from the expedited debris removal area have become available, the Joplin City Council will be considering a change to the current ordinance at the October 17, 2011 council meeting to make the soil testing mandatory. When applying for a building permit, mandatory testing is required in those areas containing contaminants known to the EPA, including the smelter zone and mine waste areas of the northwest and western sections of the city.
Other potential contaminants in the tornado-stricken area may become evident. They include but are not limited to finding:
- Excessive paint chips
- Presence of "chat" where concrete structures were removed
- Unnatural soil formations similar to mine waste or "chat" that become visible during excavation
Homeowners may contact the Jasper County Health Department for free soil testings. If contamination is found, the inspector will work with the property owner to establish a remediation plan to either remove the contaminant or place it under an effective barrier like more soil that is contaminant free, mulch or concrete.
The city has requested assistance from federal and state partners to help residents address the issue of contamination. They say they are aggressively working on securing grants to help pay for the remediation.
For questions or to schedule testing phone (417) 358-0475 or 877-878-9131 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.