MIAMI (CBS4) -Residents in a Liberty City neighborhood plagued by toxic soil are demanding answers from city leaders about the state of their health.
“What is it? What’s attacking my child? Or what I’ve been exposed to?” begged Renita Holmes, a long time resident and community advocate for the beleaguered Northwest Miami-Dade area.
“We need to be worried about how do I prevent any further damage not just cleaning up property. That’s been mismanaged,” implored Holmes as she and Chief Investigative Reporter Michele Gillen walked next to the Annie Coleman apartments.
This morning, residents there awoke to bulldozers tearing up their front and back yards. The workers are replacing soil the county says is contaminated from fuel and diesel spills from parked cars.
Folks who live here just steps from the poisoned Olinda Park across the street are left wondering what the health effects of all this might be?
“I am holding a picture of a kid who’s hair is falling out,” said Holmes.
All this as the state is extending free lead poisoning testing next door.
So far, the state says no children have turned up positive for lead poisoning.
But for weeks, the I-Team has been exposing the fact that the parents of the children being tested are not being asked if their children ever even visited the contaminated park.
The I-Team raised the concern with United States Senator Bill Nelson who recently visited the lead testing site.
The Senator was surprised. ”You don’t know who was or was not exposed,” Nelson asked officials.
The senator urged a change. “It’s very easy to ask that question and important to find out,” he added.
And late Monday, the Florida Health Department informed CBS4-NEWS that it would begin asking that key question.
Also at issue… reaching out to the hundreds of thousands who played in the park who are grown or moved.
“Many of these kids are 18 and 19 years old. Their brains may have been affected by lead and their ability to learn and progress in school. They need to be reached out to,” said Environmental activist and lawyer Louise Caro.
With urging on this matter from Senator Bill Nelson, the Florida Department of Health now says it will begin reaching out to their offices around the state and will attempt to do a larger outreach to those exposed to the soil of Olinda Park.