Toxic soil removal plan in the works in West Deptford

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Toxic soil removal plan in the works in West Deptford. Christie Ileto reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on July 6, 2017. (WPVI)

A cleanup plan is in the works to rid a West Deptford, Gloucester County neighborhood of contaminated soil.

Last year, Action News reported on car batteries buried beneath 36 homes leaking lead and other toxins into the ground.
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Crews continue digging in Gloucester County to help rid a neighborhood of hazardous material.



Now, the feds unveiled their plan to residents.

Residents came for answers Thursday on how, when, and what will be done to rid the toxic soil their homes sit on.

During our report last year, we learned the West Deptford neighborhood was built on an old recycling site belonging to Matteo & Sons.

Residents Bambino and Wilma Martins were the first to discover crushed car batteries in their yards, leaking high levels of lead, PCB, and other toxins into the ground.

"Initially, it was terrible because we had to move out of the house," Bambino said.

While the contaminated soil took 10 weeks to remove, the EPA is now taking steps to do the same for 25 of 36 neighboring homes.

"We'll come in, excavate it out, and back-fill with clean soil," Thomas Dobinson of the EPA said.

The feds say it will take two years; they assure residents won't be displaced for that long, but there's no timeline on when it will start.

"At this time we believe the majority of the contamination is in the top four feet of soil; there are a few limited areas where it may be go deeper," Dobinson said.

While there's no proof the toxins proved fatal to those living there, the hazardous waste is a health risk the EPA is desperate to clean up.

"It's not healthy for anyone, plus many of our neighbors have little kids; it's dangerous," Wilma Martins said.

Though there is no clear timeline on when the removal will start, but the EPA is hopeful for later this year.

Funding is contingent on next year's federal budget.
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