Arsenic Clean Up Continues


Have y’all seen the plastic orange fencing popping up around neighborhood yards in the past month or so?

I was on my way to the South High track when I first came across an orange “Men Working” sign on 21st avenue. (The sign did not lie: Fifty yards later I saw four men working in a yard.)

“What’s the project?” I casually asked the group, part of an engineering team based on the truck logo.

“Errr…yard clean up,” came the reply.

If you aren’t familiar, years ago, wind blew arsenic contamination from a pesticide plant into Corcoran and other neighborhoods, and much of it settled into the soil. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted soil tests and remediated a number of properties in the community between 2009 and 2011.  


I wasn’t in the neighborhood at that time, and I wondered, is this what remediation looks like?

So I asked on my way back from the workout. “Is this yard clean up part of the arsenic superfund site?”

“Yes it was,” came the reply. Through further conversation, I learned that for one reason or another, the EPA wasn’t able to get permission to clean up all the yards from the identified property owners. One of the guys thought it might be due to absent landlords or things of that nature.

My final question: “How could someone learn more of inquire about their own property?” 

“Your best bet is to contact the EPA,” came the reply.

I remember repeating his answer out loud, while simultaneously imagining the difficulty of finding the right contact at a giant government agency.  But it’s actually pretty easy! 

A few clicks on the EPA website and I found the people (men again, it turns out) in charge of this project. If you have questions about your yard in relation to the EPA clean up, contact them:

  • Charles Rodriguez is the community involvement coordinator: [email protected] or 312-886-7472
  • Howard Caine is the Remedial Project Manager: [email protected], or 312-353-9685.

If you want to join the conversation locally, attend a Land Use and Housing meeting. The next two are on Thursday, October 6, and Thursday, November 3. Meetings are at 6 p.m. at the CNO office. Join us!


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