- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

MIAMI (AP) - Bayfront Park has joined Miami’s list of parks with contaminated soil.

The Miami Herald (https://hrld.us/1e5UOxW ) reports that workers completing a survey of the city’s 112 parks last week found what they suspected was melted glass near the middle of the 32-acre park.

Workers took six soil samples in three nearby locations, said Assistant City Manager Alice Bravo. The soil samples from the surface didn’t show levels of toxic lead. But a sample taken from between six inches and one foot beneath the surface, tested positive for lead above allowable limits.

The city will now conduct additional testing to find out the extent of the contamination. Unlike the toxic ash, which led to four parks being closed and parts of two others being fenced off, officials don’t foresee closing Bayfront.

“This is not the same as the other situations, like at Merrie Christmas Park, where the results were in the thousands,” said Wilbur Mayorga, the county’s chief of pollution control. “This is not like Blance Park, where you have playgrounds. These were taken along pathways.”

While the samples taken at Bayfront showed levels above the allowable limit, they did not meet the threshold that health officials consider a hazard.

“This is obviously just the first step. It’s in the early stages of the city of Miami conducting the proper assessment,” he said. “I don’t have the lab data and we typically don’t provide an opinion until we get the lab data.”

Since last summer, contamination has been found in six city parks and one county park. Cleanup could cost millions and take months. Heavy metals in the ash, including lead, arsenic and barium, can cause health problems.

The Herald reports the finding prompted city officials to inspect all 112 parks. They’re paying close attention to what the land was previously used for. In many cases, parks were built on cheap land, including old landfill sites.

Bayfront Park, which opened in 1925. Four years ago, it underwent a renovation that included more than 150 trees, new walkways and bike paths. The area where the contamination was found is bordered by walkways and is generally unused.

“We’re going to do whatever is suggested for us to do to make sure the areas are safe and available to the public - or not available to the public, until they’re made safe,” said Tim Schmand, executive director of the Bayfront Park Management Trust.


Information from: The Miami Herald, https://www.herald.com

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