Lead removal planned at U.S. Forest Service property | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lead removal planned at U.S. Forest Service property

David Bunker

TRUCKEE – The U.S. Forest Service has found high levels of lead contamination on the property where it plans to build a new Ranger District station here.

The discovery will prompt the federal agency to truck large quantities of soil away from the property, south of Interstate 80 and east of Highway 267. The clean up is not expected to significantly delay construction.

Particularly high levels of lead were found in certain spots. The Forest Service is closing off the property because of the contamination.

“The lead is pretty much isolated to the surface,” said Dennis Geiser, a regional environmental engineer with the Forest Service. “It doesn’t go down into the soil.”

The contamination may come from a period between 1860 and 1930 when the land was used as a dumping site, said Grant Eisen, from Nevada County Department of Environmental Health.

“When you burn waste you can free up lead,” Eisen said.

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Geiser estimated that the Forest Service will have to remove between 1,000 and 3,000 cubic yards of soil.

By the time funding is freed up for the excavation, the cleanup will probably begin next summer, he said.

“It should be a fairly easy cleanup,” Geiser said.

There is no health risk to people who have walked through the property, said Geiser, but the agency is concerned about people digging in the soil hunting for bottles or artifacts.

The contamination was unexpected, Geiser said.

“It was a surprise to us,” he said. “We weren’t expecting anything.”

The Town of Truckee is interested in relocating its corporation yard to the site, and the Truckee Fire Protection District has also in investigated building a facility on the property.

The Forest Service’s most optimistic plans have construction beginning on its 90,000-square-foot building in 2006.