City and state officials are taking conscientious steps to make sure the ambitious riverfront renovation doesn’t open up concerns about lead contamination.

As many Omahans well remember, what’s now called Lewis & Clark Landing was, for decades, the site of lead smelting on an immense scale by the Asarco plant. The area also was home to a disposal facility for lead batteries. Creation of Lewis & Clark Landing in 2002 involved covering the lead with 3 to 6 feet of clean dirt, topped by concrete.

Now, ambitious renovation work is underway to provide stronger connections linking downtown to the riverfront. City and state officials are taking a variety of steps to ensure that no contaminated soil resurfaces, as reported by The World-Herald’s Aaron Sanderford.

Some examples:

» The city will regularly provide state regulators with scientific and engineering data on the riverfront work.

» The state, with costs covered by the city, is monitoring any construction that moves or disturbs contaminated soil and ensuring that any digging mistakes are properly repaired.

» The engineering firm HDR and the city have plans prepared if they encounter contaminated soil, including help from a scientist on site, protective gear for workers and 55-gallon drums for safe storage of contaminated soil.

As parks are redesigned and downtown topography is changed, city and state engineers need to hold the work to the highest standards to safeguard against lead contamination. The professional work and planning thus far are encouraging and commendable.

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