Shells from turkey shoot possibly behind lead contamination at area sports complex

WHITEWATER TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - Several parents are alarmed after lead and arsenic were found on one of the baseball fields at Little Fenway Park on Furlong Drive in Whitewater Township.

The discovery was made on field No. 5, which is currently closed to the public.

Taylor Creek Youth Organization, located at 8015 Furlong Road, provides baseball, softball and soccer fields. The complex also hosts weekly turkey shoots during the winter months.

As parents showed up at the baseball field Monday they were shocked to learn about a lead and arsenic contamination. Some parents didn't know until FOX19 told them.

"The parents should have been notified. I wasn't notified – I don't know if a letter was sent out or an email. My son actually umpired on that field," said Julia Burns, a concerned parent.

A complaint in February to the Ohio EPA prompted the investigation. From November to March the Taylor Creek Youth Organization, TCYO, holds a weekly Turkey Shoot. It's one of the group's largest fundraisers to help pay for their events. The person who made the complaint was concerned that lead from the gunfire could contaminate the fields.

Matt Younger, who volunteers with the TCYO, says that they had a system to recycle the debris but a recent flood in February destroyed the container releasing the shotgun shells onto the fields.

"We knew it once the flood came through. The currents out there were so great. Once our containment collapsed we knew we were going to need some help out here," said Younger.

Mitchell Morris came to the park Monday night to watch his grandson play. The lead scare hits close to home because his son was diagnosed with lead poisoning as a child.

"That's something really tragic that you don't want your child to go through," said Morris.

The Hamilton County Health Department says lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing lead, which can slow down development and damage hearing and speech. These are symptoms Morris says his child suffered through.

"It's a shame to hear that you come out to the baseball field and it's here on the ground. You try to take your kids to have a good time and to find out that they could get lead poisoning is a very serious issue," he said.

Younger says inspectors narrowed down the contamination to one field and he says the current open fields are safe for the children to play on.

"Everything down there we've looked at we've cornered off. You can't play on it. You can't get to it. We're just waiting for a game plan to try to rectify the situation," said Younger.

He says that the EPA is expected to complete all of the soil reports within the next two weeks. Then they will give the organization steps of what to do next to clean up the field.

"While we feel that the potential risks to children who have played on these fields are small, we would advise anyone concerned to consult with their physician. Tests for both lead and arsenic exposure are readily available and easy to administer," says Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram.

For more information on lead and arsenic exposure, visit Hamilton County Public Health website at hcph.org

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