Areas to be tested for lead

By  Bo Emerson
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Environmental Protection Agency will test for toxic lead residue in Morningside and other Atlanta neighborhoods surrounding a former lead-smelting factory, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.
At 740 Lambert Drive N.E., near Cheshire Bridge and Piedmont, the Metalico Evans factory processed 5,000 tons of lead a year from 1935 until the mid-1990s. Until 1977, it operated without air pollution control devices.
The factory was replaced by a cement plant in 2003. Bulldozers leveled the buildings and scraped away the soil before the cement company took ownership.
But for several decades lead dust would have left the factory chimneys to drift over the thousands of residences in the nearby Lindbergh, Cheshire Bridge and Morningside neighborhoods.
Lead is a neurotoxin that accumulates in the body and can cause brain damage, reduced intelligence, developmental problems, stunted growth, seizures and death. Lead dust can drift three to five miles from a factory source.
Inquiries about the defunct factory from a reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2009 led to an EPA assessment of the risks posed by fallout and runoff. This month, USA Today published the results of a yearlong investigation into hundreds of similar “ghost factories” around the country, mentioning three Atlanta facilities.
The EPA’s assessment and a subsequent analysis, completed in March, caused enough concern to warrant the additional soil tests, EPA officials said. At the Lambert Drive site, the EPA found soil with lead concentrations above the 400 parts-per-million considered safe by the agency, but no sampling was done outside the boundaries of the factory site.
The preliminary analysis “assumes a release [of lead dust] exists,” EPA Region 4 spokesman James Pinkney said in a written statement. Pinkney said the EPA is developing a plan to sample the soil in residential yards around the former factory, and the soil of waterways that drain the area. That sampling will begin this summer, he said.
The EPA declined requests for a phone interview to discuss in greater detail the potential for contamination and the history of the agency’s actions to safeguard residents.
The agency has not yet alerted residents of neighborhoods around the plant about any potential hazard in their soil. Several told the AJC they were unaware that a lead factory ever existed nearby.
“Nobody’s mentioned it,” said Dot Marrinson, 91, who has lived in Morningside since 1963.
Rich Sussman, a retired National Parks Service executive, who’s lived and gardened in the area since 1974, said he had no inkling there was a smelting factory less than a mile from his house. “I never knew it was there.”
There were at least two other sites in Atlanta where lead apparently was processed, both owned by the Miller Metal Co. One was in a spot now occupied by the Williams Street exit from the Downtown Connector. The other was in an area on downtown’s Decatur Street that became the Grady Homes housing project, owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority.
When the apartments at Grady Homes were slated for demolition in 2006 to make way for redevelopment, the EPA suggested that the housing authority conduct further testing at the property.
The AHA removed a few thousand tons of contaminated soil in 2008, before transforming the area into a mixed-use apartment community called Ashley at Auburn Pointe, according to AHA spokesman Rick White.
When it settles to the ground, lead tends to bind with bare soil, according to Marsha Black, associate professor in environmental health science at the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health. It poses a special danger to growing children who might play in the dirt and then put dirty hands or dirty toys in their mouths.
Local and federal environmental officials “should have done a lot more in the last few years” to inform residents about the area’s history, said Colleen Kiernan, director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “If credible evidence demonstrates that people are at risk, there should be some path toward addressing the problem,” she said.
Based on its investigation to date, the EPA has raised concerns about possible waterborne lead contamination. The Lambert Drive property drains into the south fork of Peachtree Creek, and from there into the Chattahoochee River. Lead dust that washed off the property would have ended up in the creek sediment, and possibly been ingested by any of the dozens of fish species that live there.
The EPA’s report pointed out that fishermen catch many of those fish, and that some anglers consume what they catch.
Sussman also sometimes makes a supper from his backyard bounty of radishes, lettuce, carrots, beets and basil. A Master Gardener, he’s had his soil tested many times — for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. But not for lead.
He never thought it necessary.
He still doubts there’s any need. But he’d like to know.
Staff writer Craig Schneider contributed to this article.
 

Public Meeting About Nature Trail Set for April 10

By Sally Sears
A plan to link two  major nature preserves in Virginia-Highland and Morningside is gaining momentum in the neighborhood.
The South Fork Conservancy and  Park Pride are leading discussions about a trail along the south fork of  Peachtree Creek connecting Morningside Nature Preserve and Herbert  Taylor-Daniel Johnson Nature Preserve.
The first public meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 10 at 6 p.m. at Haygood  Methodist Church could demonstrate some of the benefits and challenges  of creating more greenspace with easy access to walkers, joggers and  perhaps bikers.
Creek  cleanups and trail building are expected later in the spring.
Here’s  what one avid creek paddler found on a cleanup downstream from Cheshire  Bridge Road.
From Richard Grove, Georgia Kayaker:
There are good river days and there are great river days. Today was a great one. Today  after 9.5 hours, 25 more tires were removed along with 3 shopping  carts, some carpet, a picnic table umbrella, 3 golf balls, mirror,  fishing reel, vehicle tail light lens, sleeping bag, trash can lid, PVC  pipe, wire, metal stud, shoes, shirts, roof shingles, safety fence, silt  fence, fire extinguisher, lots of aluminum cans, plastic bags &  bottles, a disposable razor. Still looking for a toothbrush. The pile is  huge. Next work day will be from Cheshire Bridge Road.
I have  never removed a Herbie trash container or a shopping cart from the  river. I thought the Herbie was a bear to get out but nothing compared  to the shopping carts which took more than an hour to dig each one out.
One  day next week I will cut up the tree in the river across from the trash  pile area which will make the river look much better from that view  point.
I see and hear people walking the trail when I am in the  river working but the only chance I get to talk to anyone is when I’m  either starting or finishing and at my truck.. When I was cleaning in  the area of the trash pile several people came to the riverbank to say,  hello. Sunday I met a couple who walk the trail several times a week.
A  year from now there will probably be less trash in the river but more  on the trail. Fact-of-life, Americans are pigs. Where they go so come  their trash.
Sally Sears is the Executive Director of the South Fork Conservancy,  a nonprofit that seeks to restore, conserve and protect the Riparian systems of the South Fork of Peachtree Creek Watershed. Follow South Fork on Facebook. Learn more on their website.

Explore a New Trail Near Peachtree Creek

By Sally Sears
Invitation  to explore a meadow in winter — it’s a newly created trail through a  long-ignored slice of Midtown, beside Peachtree Creek and Interstate 85.  Popular tours of the trails last week gave dogs, owners and neighbors a  walk in nature.
The  neighbors and the South Fork Conservancy are carving a new vision for  caring for our intown creeks. Simple trails through the landscape beside  the south and north forks encourage people to walk their dogs, breathe  deeply and re-discover big hardwoods hiding in plain sight on public  land. This meadow is interstate right of way, next to a neighborhood  with almost no accessible greenspace.
Two years of cooperation helped to  build this mulch trail, weaving along the creek and through a meadow of  wild flowers and grasses.  Neighbors hope to connect the trails under  the interstate to the Morningside Nature Preserve, Zonolite Park and  then to the Herbert Taylor-Daniel Johnson Nature Preserve.
If  you want to walk it, the trail head is just across the guard rail at  Lindbergh Drive and I-85. On street parking available at Lindbergh Drive  and  Armand Road.
More information is available at the South Fork Conservancy website.
Sally Sears is the Executive Director of thr South Fork Conservancy, a nonprofit that seeks to restore, conserve and protect the Riparian systems of the South Fork of Peachtree Creek Watershed. This article appeared in the Virginia Highland/North Druid Hills Patch on January 11, 2012.

Georgia Conservancy Event: Trail Clean-up at Peachtree Creek Nov., 20th

Next Sunday, November 20th at 9am, Generation Green and South Fork  Conservancy will partner to clean-up trails, build benches and plant trees at  Peachtree Creek in Atlanta. The trail clean-up area is located near the  intersection of Lindbergh Drive and Armand Road. Volunteers are asked to  register for this event, to wear boots and bring gloves.
Generation Green is a program of  the Georgia Conservancy creating “exciting and inclusive” opportunities for  future generations of environmental leaders who will protect Georgia’s  environment. The program uses educational opportunities, social events,  adventure trips and service projects as mediums of engagement.
South Fork Conservancy is a  volunteer organization of neighbors and businesses with an aim at sustaining  Atlanta’s creeks and quality of life.  The organization is the beginning  part of an initiative aimed at restoring, and repairing Peachtree Creek to its  “rightful place in the forefront of the region’s natural resources.”
For directions, and registration information for this event, click here.
Continue reading on Examiner.com Georgia Conservancy Event: Trail Clean-up at Peachtree Creek Nov., 20th – Atlanta healthy living | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/healthy-living-in-atlanta/georgia-conservancy-event-trail-clean-up-at-peachtree-creek-nov-20th#ixzz1dcaWxTe7
Continue reading on Examiner.com Georgia Conservancy Event: Trail Clean-up at Peachtree Creek Nov., 20th – Atlanta healthy living | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/healthy-living-in-atlanta/georgia-conservancy-event-trail-clean-up-at-peachtree-creek-nov-20th#ixzz1dcaPKAJg

Peachtree Creek South-Forkers Get Their Sling Blade On

Volunteers improve a path along the South Fork of Peachtree Creek to create a walking trail and connect green spaces of Atlanta.
By Margaret Landers | Buckhead Patch
The unceasing whizz of traffic echoed from beyond the bend in the creek, competing with the chirping melodies of birds in the tops of the maples. Two Canadian geese paddled along the creek water, now brown and thick with mud from the recent rains. The scent of honeysuckle lifted in the air, only to be quickly suppressed by putrid sewage fumes leaking up from their pipes underground.
On Wednesday, about 20 volunteers — armed with sling blades, chainsaws, clippers, cutters and Prosecutor solution — trekked through the overgrown trail alongside Peachtree Creek to fight for the life of the waterway and clear a path so the public can enjoy it.
Sally Sears of the South Fork Conservancy, which is heading up the project, commanded the troops from the trailhead, on the cul de sac of Armand Road. Machete Man Jeremy Dahl was there, armed with multiple machetes and a well-versed knowledge of forest sustainability. Professionals came from Jackson Spalding as part of the firm’s “Day in the Field” initiative. Other crew leaders came from the Conservancy, Olmsted Linear Park Alliance, and Peachtree Hills. 
Volunteer Dave Kaufman knows the trail and the creek well; he canoed it in the ’90s, and wrote a book, “Peachtree Creek ,” highlighting the watershed and its need for preservation. “Peachtree Creek is a well-kept secret in general,” he said. “I’d hate to see it just getting paved.”
The team’s efforts focused on clearing an open walking trail, hopefully suitable for buggies to roll upon, cutting down invasive plants from the forest, and building a culvert of stones to bridge the path across a minor trench. Sears’ vision is a safe and beautiful place for the Atlanta community to share and enjoy. She said, “This is for the mamas, the grandmamas, the babies…” She called Peachtree Creek a neglected treasure. “People have loved this creek for a long time,” she said.
Lindridge Martin Manor resident Bob Scott often walks the trail with his dogs. This spring the weeds have overgrown much of the remaining path. “Mother nature has taken over,” he said. Scott spent the first half of the afternoon hacking away at weeds and vines to clear the footpath near the trailhead. “It’s a lot tougher going than we thought,” he said, wiping sweat from his forehead.
Dahl knows the science behind the degradation of the forest. He said the biggest threat to a forest is insularization, or dividing a forest into pieces separated by urban development. “We (biology conservationists) call it the eternal external threat,” he said, “Divide, divide, divide.” Dahl explained that when a forest’s size is cut by dividers, the amount of plant and animal species in each forest section decreases exponentially, leading to extinction. But when forests are connected, the species growth is “fantastic.” The process is called the species area effect. “My aim is to connect up the forest,” he said. Dahl recognized the importance of upkeeping the health of Peachtree Creek. “The biological corridors are our streams.”
Sears recognized the proximity of Atlanta’s existing parks along Peachtree Creek, and she’s working with the conservancy and community supporters to make the connection. The project will encompass about two miles of trails, leading from the entrance behind the Cedar Chase condominiums off Lindbergh Drive, under Ga. 400 and I-85, to the confluence of the north and south forks of the creek.
One section of the path leads directly underneath 400 and 85, into a den of jumbled rock, spray-paint artistry and abodes of the homeless. Kaufman called the space a “cathedral of potential” for the future green pathway. He said it could be a sculpture garden or a skate park.
Sears said the project is gaining momentum and public awareness as the conservancy recei es modest grants and neighborhood support. Morningside Elementary School has provided support, as well as the Kendeda Fund and the MillionMile Greenway. Kaufman said completion of the project is a matter of manpower and money. “So far, so good,” he said

I-85/Ga. 400 Interchange Could Ease Traffic

Proposed I-85/Ga. 400 Interchange
Metro Atlanta commuters could get some relief as the Georgia Department of Transportation is in the early planning stages of building a new interchange connecting Georgia 400 southbound to Interstate 85 northbound and I-85 southbound to Georgia 400 northbound. 

“It is definitely the most anticipated (project) in a while,” Georgia DOT Deputy Press Secretary Jill Goldberg told Channel 2 Action News reporter Richard Elliot. “We’ve had more people wanting this done since the road was originally built.” 
Georgia 400 from I-85 north to I-285 was completed in the early 1990s at a cost of $180 million, not adjusted for inflation. Goldberg said there wasn’t enough money budgeted to connect Ga. 400 to I-85, except the southbound lanes. Since then, commuters have had to negotiate Sidney Marcus Boulevard, the Buford-Spring Connector, Lenox Road and Cheshire Bridge Road if they wanted to go between the two major thoroughfares. 
Now, Goldberg said, the state sold $40 million in bonds to pay for the new interchange project. She told Elliot the bonds will be repaid in seven years using money collected from the Ga. 400 toll. 
On Friday, the Georgia DOT issued Requests For Qualifications. That’s the process where interested construction companies submit their qualifications to build the project. After the DOT selects qualified companies, the DOT will ask those companies for bids on the project. 
Many Buckhead neighborhoods have supported the plan for years and pushed the DOT to begin construction. One northeast Atlanta neighborhood, however, did not. Residents of the Lindridge-Martins Manor neighborhood opposed the plan because it directly affects their area. One of the proposed ramps would go along Peachtree Creek, and their properties. 
“We were worried about this for a long time,” said resident Art Schoeck. His property would be in the shadow of the proposed flyover ramp. “Encroachment has always been an issue, and so when we’re going to be encroached upon, we’d like it to be in a positive way.” 
Schoeck and other residents said they changed their opinion of the project when the DOT agreed to build a landscaped walking trail along Peachtree Creek once the project is completed. The DOT worked with the neighborhood association and the Southfork Conservancy on the project and plan to hook it into a series of trails that winds through that area. 
“When we looked at the manner in which they were going to do this with a trail and landscaping and the fencing, if they do what they say they’re going to do, it looks like it’s going to have a positive impact on the neighborhood,” said Schoeck. 
Commuters seemed to like the idea since many do not appreciate navigating their way from I-85 to Ga. 400 on a daily basis. 
“I think it’s absolutely great,” said Catalina Decastillo. “It’s going to make it convenient especially for the people who live around this area. So, whoever thought of that is very smart. It’s about time.” 
The winning construction company will also design the interchange. The DOT hopes to have the project completed in 2013.

Find a park along South Fork

Use this map link to find a park near you along the South Fork of Peachtree Creek:

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&source=embed&msa=0&msid=216162315370426453646.0004951ad1910d8473018&ll=33.801118,-84.319382&spn=0.107127,0.2635&t=h&z=13

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced test results for asbestos contamination


The US Environmental Protection Agency announced test results for asbestos contamination of public land along the South Fork of Peachtree Creek Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. The news encouraged green space supporters hoping to build trails for public use near the creek.
Last spring federal agents gathered soil and air samples near the trail site, looking for remaining traces of asbestos from a closed vermiculite processing plant at Zonolite Road near Emory University. The results revealed at a community meeting at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Sheridan Road found no measurable asbestos on most of the site.  Only at one site did the  EPA find what it called “barely detectable” asbestos contamination.
EPA coordinator Terry Stilman says “the risks from exposure to airborne asbestos are very low for recreational users.” 
Neighbors  want a creek side trail linking the park to Daniel Johnson-Herbert Taylor Park just upstream, across Johnson Road, and a community garden in the 13 acres now owned by DeKalb County. Another large public park, the Morningside Nature Preserve, is nearby downstream.  
The single spot still suspected of contamination is a mound or plateau about 170 x 250 feet, between the former Zonolite plant and the South Fork of Peachtree Creek.  “This site needs some action,” Stilman told a crowd of two dozen neighbors, trail and park supporters, and green space officials from DeKalb County. “It has a barely detectable amount of asbestos present. Without the presence of the plateau, we (The EPA) would not have any stake in this land.” 
The EPA’s stake means pressure on the former manufacturer, WR Grace, to clean up the contamination, allowing the public safe use of the parkland. Failing that, Stilman says EPA Superfund dollars are appropriate for this site, which he called a Legacy Vermiculite Site, one of dozens around the country currently being assessed by the EPA.
The news left DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader enthusiastic for the future of Zonolite Park.  When Stilman said the EPA will design the remedy, neighbor Mike Morton asked if the community would be included in the design. Commissioner Rader said “Yes. I can make that clear, since we own the land.”

Sally Sears, Chair - South Fork Conservancy

“We want a good design, using this flood plain for protecting the creek and allowing the public safe access to a sensitive piece of Piedmont  woodland for trails and recreation,” says Sally Sears, chair of the South Fork Conservancy. 
Rich Sussman, Environmental Coordinator of the Lindbergh-LaVista Corridor Coalition, believes the news is positive for neighbors eager for more green space close to their homes and businesses.  The two organizations lead community work days helping to create trails along the south and north forks of Peachtree Creek, from Lindbergh Drive to Johnson Road.
More samples from the plateau are in EPA hands, taken Monday, December 6, 2010. Stilman says the EPA will analyze the results, and determine a method of reducing the risk by mid-January, 2011.
More information at:   www.epaosc.org/VermiculiteExpansionWRGraceAtlantaGAO144               
EPA information officer: bryant.kyle@epa.gov
Reported by Sally Sears, Chair of the South Fork Conservancy

The Voyager on Peachtree Creek

David R. Kaufman’s journey down Atlanta’s forgotten waterway
This report was prepared by Ken Edelstein, with assistance from Joeff Davis, Samantha Simon and Tammy Vinson. Online production by Alejandro Leal.
John Wesley Powell had the Colorado. Lewis and Clark explored the Missouri. For Henry Morton Stanley, it was the Nile.
David R. Kaufman set his sights a bit more modestly. Since he moved to Atlanta as a kid in 1971, Kaufman wanted to uncover the mysteries of Peachtree Creek, a neglected stream that drains the northern half of Atlanta.
Now he’s completed his voyage of discovery. Throughout the 1990s – sometimes with a friend, most often alone – Kaufman descended the North and South forks of Peachtree Creek, as well as some of its tributaries.
What he found by canoe and on foot, and what he recorded with a 4-by-5 camera, was a stream whose rich history and natural beauty has largely been pushed aside by roads, buildings, garbage, pollution – by a city that turned its back on what could be a magnificent resource. Yet remnants of that history and beauty remain. 
Kaufman shares his journey in a book, Peachtree Creek: A Natural and Unnatural History of Atlanta’s Watershed (University of Georgia Press, 2007).
Here are some photos and excerpts. 
Next

South Fork – Peachtree Creek workday Apr. 17


Robert Rule
Robert Rule, South Fork Project Coordinator

by Robert Rule

LLCC is partnering with the South Fork Conservancy to clean up areas along the South Fork of Peachtree Creek. Our first major workday will be April 17th. We will be cleaning up trash and removing invasive plants – NOT clearing new trails – on City of Atlanta Watershed Management easement adjacent to Lindridge Martin Manor. Several Boy Scout and Cub Scout units will participate. Volunteers and groups are welcome! For information contact me, LLCC South Fork Project Coordinator, at robert.rule@linberghlavista.org.