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Lincoln residents are upset about ADEM delay on lead notification

LINCOLN (AP) — Some residents living near the site of a defunct brass foundry in Lincoln were upset to learn that state environmental officials knew three years ago that hazardous debris was on the site but didn't warn them about the potential health threat.

"They should have informed us about that," said Sidney Fomby Jr., 61, on Wednesday. "They should have let the whole city of Lincoln know. My grandkids have played down by it."

Fomby lives across from the old Lincoln Metals Corp./Heartland Faucet site.

Alabama Department of Environmental Management officials knew the site had high levels of lead contamination more than three years ago, according to a report, citing ADEM documents.

Besides arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper and zinc, high levels of lead were found in soil samples collected in 2003.

ADEM spokesman Jerome Hand defended the agency's decision not to sound the alarm.

"Our data wasn't complete," Hand said, adding that if ADEM notified the public of the hazardous material "prematurely, it could have sent people in the wrong direction."

Hand noted that ADEM's assessment, completed in 2005, recommended the removal and proper disposal of the lead contaminated material.

The assessment also points out soil samples were collected and analyzed in December 2003, confirming high levels of lead are present inside and outside the fence surrounding the shuttered foundry.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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