Concern Over High Lead Levels in Palmerton


PALMERTON, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Residents of Palmerton are reacting today to word of high lead levels found in at least two locations in their borough. Near a daycare center and the borough’s public park.

Eyewitness News first told you about the test results Wednesday night at 11.

Today we are learning more about those results and what it means to residents.  The I-Team’s Andy  Mehalshick has the story.

Carol Houseman owns the West End Daycare Center and was shocked by DEP findings. The D.E.P. took soil samples on her property several months ago. They found higher than acceptable levels at the rear of the property.

She showed us where they were doing the testing and where they found the highest levels.

For now, the 20 children who attend the day will be kept indoors.

“I am very concerned and with the children here and we have the zinc plant right next door. We had soil samples were taken four or five years ago and resoiling done and everything we thought that solved everything” Said Houseman.

High lead levels were also found in a remote area of the Palmerton public park. Palmerton residents are no stranger to environmental concerns. A zinc processing and recycling operation have been in this community for 100 years.

But a federal study last year raised concerns that residents, namely young children, and pregnant women, could face health risks from air pollution connected to the plant. The state health department provides free blood tests last month for residents.

Those test results are not yet completed. Jessica Roberts brings her daughter to the daycare center. She is concerned but “Not a lot of people want to move out of the area even when they hear this kind of things. They like living in this area. It’s an ongoing problem this isn’t new.”

DEP Spokesperson Colleen Connolly says these results are not the end all.

“We want to do additional sampling to be sure we are going to set up a plan when we take more samples from this location so we want to analyze a little bit further.”

Soil tests taken in eight other locations in Palmerton showed acceptable levels of lead. We did reach out to the company for comment. American zinc recycling. At this point, we have not had a response.

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