Contaminated park in Detroit has residents concerned - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Contaminated park in Detroit has residents concerned

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An informational town hall forum Wednesday night came with the warning: yes, unwanted chemicals are in the earth at Bridgeview Park in southwest Detroit. The site was once used for heavy industry. And while those buildings are gone, the chemicals are still in the earth.

Young trees are now growing on this four-acre lot after the nonprofit The Greening of Detroit secured a grant and bought the trees. The city of Detroit allowed for planting in a process known as dendromediation, or planting trees to clean the earth.

The theory is the newly-planted tree absorbs the chemicals into the root of the tree. However, the process can take several years before you see benefits and neighbors say they don't have time to wait for these trees to work.

The concerned neighbors are demanding answers about the safety of the park, especially after volunteers showed up to plant the trees wearing hazmat-style protection suits. Greening says the suits were precautionary and experts say the soil must be ingested to be a health hazard.

At the meeting, neighbors say they are looking towards suburbs who have cleaned out hazardous properties.

"Like they did in Livonia, where they had a similar situation that they went in there, they removed the topsoil, they healed it and now they have six soccer teams playing on that field. That's what we're looking for," says Emma Lockridge.

"I agree we should have done more engagement in the very beginning and really, because there were some concerns with folks, but, basically we're just trying to clean up the soil by using trees. So, it's a research project. The research indicates these trees should be very effective cleaning up the soil," says Trisha Hubbell with Greening.

A cyclone fence now surrounds the property.


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