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Cleanup of heavy metals at Stodden Park draws criticism from concerned community members

Removing heavy metals from Stodden Park in Butte
Posted at 8:04 PM, Aug 29, 2023

BUTTE — Construction is underway at Stodden Park in Butte where they’re removing heavy metals from beneath some of the playground equipment, and while it’s been happening across town in nine other parks, this one is drawing the ire of the community simply because it is brand new.

"It’s a destination park. People are coming from all over to come to Stodden Park, and so when something like this happens and it gets exposure like it gets it just causes concern for everyone," says Fritz Daly, a Butte man who has been keeping track of Superfund negotiations and cleanup for the past 40 years.

Construction of the million-dollar park was completed just five years ago and Fritz is not alone in his concern over work he says should have been done right the first time.

As a crew disassembled playground equipment and scraped up dirty dirt, Stephanie DeAlba and her three-year-old daughter looked on from outside the fence.

They have been making daily trips to the park for the past week while visiting family in Butte.

" I think it’s so important that they’re actually cleaning it up," says DeAlba. "Especially, I mean, with the kids being there all the time and you know, playing and touching the ground—it’s so important that they’re doing that."

The CDC states that there is no safe blood lead level in children and even low levels of lead in blood can affect a child’s learning capacity and exposure to lead can be permanent and that's why Fritz is asking for more transparency.

"Our children shouldn’t be playing on parks or in playgrounds or whatever where there’s a lead level that’s way higher, three times higher than what it is throughout the country," says Daly.

He says the toxic soils in Butte contain three times the acceptable amount of lead compared to the rest of the nation and he wants the lead levels to be addressed.

"We need to start doing these cleanups right the first time so we don’t have to go back and redo them all the time."

The EPA is hosting a public meeting at the Butte Operations Center on Wynne Avenue on Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. in Butte.