Miami closes 2 more parks over potential soil contamination

12/23/2013 5:25 PM

12/24/2013 9:26 PM

Two more Miami public parks will be closed because of potential soil contamination.

The city announced Monday that Billy Rolle Domino Park at 3400 Grand Ave. in Coconut Grove and Southside Park at 100 SW 11th St. near Brickell will close until workers from Miami-Dade County’s Department of Environmental Resource Management and the city collect more samples and determine the next steps.

The city says it plans to work with DERM and the state health department to find a way to permanently fix soil contamination in its parks.

It is the latest in a series of park closures due to soil contamination in the past few months. Douglas Park, just outside Coral Gables at 2795 SW 37th Ave., was closed last month after tests found that its soil was contaminated with toxic metals.

The same metals were discovered in the soil at nearby Blanche Park and Merrie Christmas Park in Coconut Grove.

Merrie Christmas Park, on South LeJeune Road, was closed in September. Blanche Park, at 3045 Shipping Ave., remains open because officials said its artificial grass and asphalt protect park-goers from the toxic soil.

The county ordered the city of Miami to test all 112 of its parks for contamination in September.

At a Dec. 10 special meeting, officials from the Florida Department of Health presented to residents the results of an assessment of Blanche Park, saying the toxins found there did not present a serious health risk. The contaminants - arsenic, copper, barium, iron, dioxin and antimony - were found in the first six inches of soil and also in the groundwater, said Samir Elmir, director of the Miami-Dade County Health Department’s division of Environmental Health and Engineering.

Tests of the park's groundwater have previously indicated high levels of antimony, a metal that can cause lung and heart disease. The report also indicated levels of arsenic higher than the soil cleanup target level.

Moving into 2014, the city will have a plan to clean up the parks, according to Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who also was at the meeting.

At Blanche Park, the city will replace the contaminated soil with two feet of new soil. Additionally, the city expects to install a liner between the soil and new turf. The clean-up is slated to begin in February.

The city also is considering removing contaminated soil at the 5-acre Merrie Christmas Park and hopes to have it reopened by June, while work at the 10-acre Douglas Park will take longer and be more extensive, said Sarnoff at the meeting.

Miami Herald staff writer Jenny Staletovich contributed to this story.

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