Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Friday an Emergency Response Team from the Environmental Protection Agency began testing yards in an area of Columbia's Rosewood Community contaminated with arsenic and lead.
"We're not certain of the magnitude," said Rich Jadine with the EPA. "There may be lead here as there is everywhere in America. It may be at a level that's harmful and it may be at a level that's not harmful."
DHEC announced more than a week ago that soil surrounding the Seaco plant in Columbia was contaminated by a fertilizer plant that operated on the same ground 100 years ago.
"It's highly suspect now that some of that material has migrated this way," said Jadine.
Friday, the EPA team spoke with residents in the area and took samples above the grass. They will dig below to look for traces of the elements starting next week.
"We're also taking some air samples, just to see if any air with traffic in the neighborhood is blowing around and if there's an exposure pathway to the individuals that live here," said Jadine.
"We are trying to figure out how far the footprint actually reaches of any contamination," said Jim Beasley with DHEC.
Beasley says the boundaries of the fertilizer plant extend beyond the current Seaco plant plot.
"If it's harmful, we would do what we consider a removal action which means dig up the top foot or so of soil and then bring in fill and sod it or grass seed it back to the exposure would be removed," said Jadine. "The removal process is quite a burden to the homeowners so we want to make sure it's an appropriate action."