South Bend, Ind. The EPA says a popular South Bend park that sits on a former dumping site is a safe place for kids to play.
They met with concerned residents Tuesday to discuss the findings of several surface soil samples taken from 62 locations around Beck’s Lake.
Tests revealed the soil contains some arsenic, but not enough to pose a safety risk to people visiting the park.
“The park is completely safe for kids to come and play on,” said EPA Toxicologist Keith Fusinski. “We did a lot of testing around the play areas and we found nothing out of the ordinary.”
Experts took samples from four soccer fields, one baseball field, four playgrounds and a fishing spot on the edge of Beck’s Lake.
Several residents were upset the large hill kids roll down and sled on wasn’t one of the sites that was sampled. The EPA says they didn’t test the hill because it’s covered in grass, which acts as a buffer between people and any potential contaminants.
The soil below a wooden train that’s part of a playground had the highest concentration of arsenic in the soil. But, it was still at an acceptable level.
“All those surface oil samples fall within our acceptable risk management range,” said EPA Remedial Project Manager Owen Thompson. “People should feel free to use the park in a normal manner.”
But, some residents aren’t satisfied with the EPA’s findings.
They’re unhappy water from the lake and ground wasn’t tested, which they’re worried could be a huge health hazard.
“The citizens of South Bend should be up in arms because if it's in the air and in the water table it's affecting a whole lot of people,” said Constance Green, who lives near Beck’s Lake.
Those areas will be tested if the site is placed on the National Priorities List, which could happen this fall.
If that happens, the EPA will do a more comprehensive investigation of the contamination around Beck’s Lake, which would include testing the soil at nearby homes.
“We would look to anywhere the contamination might have come to be located,” Thompson said. “How far has it gone?”
That’s a question many people living around the park hope will be answered soon so they know if they’re at risk.
“Our children don't need to know in 30 years when they're growing little green horns because we thought it was safe,” Green said.