LIBERTY CITY (CBS4) – A hidden danger under a Miami park had parents and community leaders expressing outrage.
A CBS4 I-Team investigation has uncovered that an apartment complex across the street from contaminated Olinda Park in Liberty City also produced high levels of toxic fuels in the soil.
Miami-Dade County officials say there is no connection to the source of contamination in Olinda Park which a deed shows was a rock pit and incinerator dump .
The county blames illegally parked cars for affecting the soil surrounding the Annie Coleman Garden apartments and will start removing it in 3 weeks.
Meanwhile, residents who live in the area and whose children play in the Olinda Park playground are outraged that the contaminants were not discovered sooner.
“What about the 7 or 8 year old whose brain might be affected?” asked one father.
The immediate concern is possible lead poisoning of children. Health officials told parents that a free clinic will be opened in the neighborhood beginning on Tuesday.
“We are going to start blood screening for children that visited the park,” said Dr. Elmir Samir of Florida Department of Health.”These levels may pose a significant risk to the development of children in the neighborhood.”
Parents are also concerned for their own health and wonder if they should be screened as well.
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.
The big question remains as to who knew what, and when.
Government documents and photos show the federal government testing the soil in the park, the Coleman apartments, Olinda elementary school, and other nearby locations back in January 2010. However, the preliminary report was handed over to the county until April 2011, according to an official of the Department of Environmental Resource Management.
In fact, CBS4’s Michele Gillen learned federal assessments of the soil were conducted in the 80’s and 90’s. Calls to request an interview with the EPA have not yet been returned.
“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 DERM.
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.”