County Offers Free Testing To Kids Who Played In Toxic Miami Park

LIBERTY CITY (CBS4) – A hidden danger under a Miami park had parents and community leaders expressing outrage at a neighborhood meeting held Thursday night.

“What about the 7 or 8 year old whose brain might be affected?” asked one father who turned out to express concern. Parents are alarmed over their children having played in the Olinda Park playground which tests show is alarmingly polluted with lead.

Answers were offered as an unprecedented S.O.S was sounded by Miami-Dade County and state officials for parents of any and all children who’ve played in Olinda Park, long considered a haven in the heart of Liberty City. The danger of the contaminated soil has now been revealed and is being addressed.

“We are going to start blood screening for children that visited the park,” said Dr. Elmir Samir of Florida Department of Health.

The immediate concern is possible lead poisoning of children. Health officials told parents that a free clinic will be opened in the neighborhood beginning next Tuesday.

“These levels may pose a significant risk to the development of children in the neighborhood,” cautioned Samir.

It will take weeks and between one and two million county tax dollars to remove soil from the Park. Dirt that EPA documents show is contaminated with arsenic barium copper and lead.

While records show that federal investigators have been documenting chemicals and heavy metals in the soil of the park for over a year, the county tells Chief I-Team Investigator Michele Gillen that it just recently got the alarming results.

“Bottom line is as soon as we received the results we made the decision to implement a multi-agency effort to address this for the citizens, everyone who has visited the part and all neighbors,” said Wilbur Mayorga, chief of pollution control for the Department of Environmental Resource Management.

Representatives of those agencies turned out to answer community questions and help guide them to testing, beginning with children up through the age who six years old who can be most vulnerable.

One mom and community activist says the time for answers and truth about contamination through out the neighborhood is long overdue.

“They are playing Russian roulette with your life and the children.”

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