News Flash

Durham Parks and Recreation News Flash

Posted on: February 5, 2024

Soil Lead Testing in DPR Parks - Latest Updates - Additional park areas restricted

In November 2023, we shared the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) had decided that all five parks assessed for soil lead qualified for the State’s Pre-Regulatory Landfill Program. This means the City of Durham has an opportunity to receive additional resources and funding to remediate our park spaces that measured above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) threshold for lead. 

Representatives from the State’s Pre-regulatory Landfill Program have been conducting additional research and surveying at these five parks which has allowed them to conduct a risk assessment at the sites using standards of the program. 

Durham’s five parks are now in NCDEQ’s database with the associated risk scores as follows:

  1. Lyon Park                          274 
  2. East End Park                   173
  3. Walltown Park                   173
  4. East Durham Park             83
  5. Northgate Park                   83       

Please note, these scores do NOT necessarily reflect the amount of lead or hazardous materials within the park, however the scores help NCDEQ establish priority based on risk score and recommend risk-based remediation goals. Examples of the criteria used to score include:

  • Potable drinking wells on site within 1000 feet of contamination
  • Schools and churches on site or within 1000 feet of contamination

The EPA has recently lowered recommended screening levels and strengthened guidance for investigating and cleaning up lead-contaminated soil in residential areas where children live and play from 400ppm and above to 200ppm and above. Explainer: Updated Soil Lead Guidance

Previously the City followed the EPA’s original guidance and prohibited access to areas in the five parks that were screened 400 PPM and above. Based on their new guidance, beginning Monday, February 5, the City will prohibit access to areas within each of the five parks that have previously screened between 200 PPM and 400 PPM.

Visit our dedicated project webpage for more details on this work, additional information, and next steps.

This matter continues to be top priority for DPR, and we remain committed to finding a solution to address this issue in our five parks.


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