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20/08/01 . Unknown . A-INFOS NEWS SERVICE . US
Community Outrage Against McDonald's Site Toxic Dust
Neighbors Finally Receive Soil Report After 9 Months of Breathing Dust from Toxic Soil Removal
Public Meeting About Contamination at McDonald's Site
PHILADELPHIA, PA, USA Neighbors at 43rd and Market in West Philadelphia have anxiously been awaiting this week's public meeting about the cleanup of a McDonald's construction site at 43rd and Market. After months of protests and visits to various officials, the West Philly community group Neighbors Against McPenntrification has finally obtained a 28 page packet partial soil report and other correspondence from the City Solicitor. Intercultural Family Services, which has offices near the site, has since received a 98 page packet of documentation through their lawyer. 450 tons of contaminated soil was removed from the site with no notification given to the neighbors. The dust covered the street and the insides of residents' homes. The surrounding community was exposed to elevated levels of chromium, cadmium, copper, zinc, hydrocarbons, baryllium, lead, and tetrachloroethylene. At least one neighbor is moving away after enduring hair loss and respiratory problems. "Only God and my family know what McDonalds, the City, and the DEP have put us through," says Rev. Larry Falcon whose backyard was demolished to make way for the McDonalds.
Many in the neighborhood are concerned about how this meeting will be run and if they will be able to find answers to our concerns. Many concerned residents who feel that they have been shut out of planning the meeting will be having a press conference at 6:30 outside the meeting to insure that they have a real chance to speak about the issue. "This meeting is an attempt to relieve McDonalds of its legal responsibility to the neighborhood it devastated," says Hannah Virginia of the group Neighbors Against McPenntrification, "We do not recognize this meeting as a legal forum as there is no room for negotiation or for our voices to be heard."
Neighbors were already upset that the McDonalds was going up despite residential opposition when a city worker casually told one block resident that the truckloads of soil that crews had been removing from the site were contaminated. Construction and soil removal has caused dust from the contaminated site to fill residents' homes. The contamination was confirmed later by a public notice printed in the University City Review about McDonaldís application to the State Department of Environmental Protection (Debra Fries 610.832.6020) for a liability waiver. Residents have succeeded in getting the city to request a public meeting about the site clean up that will take place on Wednesday, August 15th at the Lea School at 47th and Locust. The meeting is being coordinated by Mr. Can-Tu Hertzler in the City Solicitor's office, 215.683.5061, and McDonalds Project Manager Scott Lang, 610.688 8010.
According to the US Agency for Toxic Substances, "Exposure to very high concentrations of tetrachloroethylene can cause dizziness, headaches, sleepiness, confusion, nausea, difficulty in speaking and walking, and unconsciousness. Tetrachloroethylene has been found in at least 771 of the 1,430 National Priorities List sites identified by the EPA."
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