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The EPA says they will present a clean-up plan for Grand Prairie superfund site in February

Grand Prairie watertower
Keren Carrion
/
KERA
The Grand Prairie water tower looms over the Burbank Gardens neighborhood, on Nov. 23, 2021.

EPA officials hope to present a plan to clean up a superfund site in a low-income, mostly Latino Grand Prairie neighborhood in February.

That was the most tangible development discussed at a meeting Monday regarding problems in the Burbank Gardens neighborhood, which is the location of one of the EPA’s most toxic superfund sites. The former manufacturing plant is on the EPA's national priority list, which includes "the nation's most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites."

Three council members were briefed by the EPA. The council members were told that trichloroethylene (TCE) vapors in the homes of residents neighboring the superfund site can lead to “neurological symptoms and an increased cancer risk.” TCE is a highly toxic chemical.

Council member Junior Ezeonu pressed the EPA for more clarification on “the health effects that may be affecting our residents who live in that community,” but the EPA could not offer specifics.

Hope Schroeder, a Remedial Project Manager with the EPA, said if residents want to know if their home is impacted they must give access to the federal agency to sample the air inside. The EPA identified more than 80 homes as being in the impacted area.

The facility is located in southeastern Grand Prairie. Pollution has contaminated the soil at the site, seeped into the groundwater and vaporized into the air.

Schroeder said the EPA’s priority is to address the soil at the site.

Council members at the meeting raised questions about the exact location of the superfund toxic waste site.

Cindy Mendez, the city’s director of public health and environmental quality, was asked to provide more details on its history.

“The city's been involved with this site for many, many years,” she said.

KERA found many residents in the predominantly Latino Burbank Gardens neighborhood said they’ve been told little or nothing about air, soil and groundwater poisoned by TCE.

Mendez said the city has done their best to inform residents of the site including “notifying residents, we did door hangers. There’s been several community meetings throughout the years and knocking on doors.”

She said the city’s role is to advocate for residents and support EPA remedial efforts.

Mendez said they continue to offer two types of vapor systems, electrical and solar powered. But the city cannot force residents to get the vapor systems.

The EPA hopes to have a community meeting in February next year where they will be taking public comment from residents.

Editor's note: This story has been updated. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the EPA found extensive contamination by TCE in the homes of more than 80 residents.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.