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Lead pellets close Chatsworth park

April 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A popular park in the San Fernando Valley is closed after tests showed the soil is toxic. Officials found dangerous amounts of lead in Chatsworth Park South and now they're trying to determine if it can ever be reopened.Chatsworth Park South is closed to the pubic, and has been since mid-February, when a park visitor found dozens of tiny lead pellets along a hiking trail.

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Officials from L.A. City's Dept. of Recreation and Parks say the pellets are remnants from more than 40 years ago when this portion of the 80-acre park was the site of a skeet and trap range.

When the city acquired it in the late 1960s, experts weren't as aware of the dangers of lead as they are now.

"It's a key issue that we need to deal with and we've taken the necessary steps by closing the park for the time being, and we'll be fully investigating it and figuring out how we can fix it so that we can reopen the park," said Paul Davis, L.A. Dept. of Recreation and Parks.

Officials have taken about a hundred samples of surface soil from the park; 20 of them tested above the safety limit for residential and children's play areas set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Until the entire park can be tested and levels of contamination determined, the park will remain closed, despite numerous complaints from nearby residents who want their park reopened.

"I'm saying that they're not moving fast enough, and that the pellets may be not all over the park and they've literally got the park closed," said neighbor Hazel Wittenberg. "Maybe they could close off a small section of the park, [and let] the rest of the park open for people to use."

Though the park remains closed to the community, officials are not canceling an annual garden festival scheduled for the end of the month. The festival will be held in an area that has been determined to be free of lead.

 

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