When we last checked in at the Red Hook Ball Fields this past May, four baseball fields had been closed due to high levels of lead found in the soil. Environmental Protection Agency officials were awaiting the results of additional soil tests conducted on other fields at the popular park.

The results of those tests are now in, and it appears the list of field closures will not be growing.

Red Hook Ball Fields lead sampling
Red Hook Ball Fields: Dots indicate where soil samples have been taken. Image via EPA.

What Do the New Samples Tell Us?

In April 2015, the EPA collected soil samples from Ball Field 9, Soccer Fields 1, 2 and 6 and surrounding areas within Red Hook Park.

Yellow dots indicate additional sample sites taken by the EPA in April. Image via EPA.

The purpose was to determine if any of these fields contain lead from the historic Columbia facility, which operated in the 1920s and 1930s.

According to the EPA,

“The results showed that lead levels at these four fields are much lower than those at Ball Fields 5, 6, 7 and 8, which were closed due to lead contamination from the Columbia facility. Lead levels at Ball Field 9 and Soccer Fields 1, 2 and 6 are not an immediate health concern and closure of these fields is not required at this time.”

While no additional fields will be closed, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation will close some areas around Soccer Field 1 as a precaution.

There will also be clean-up at these four fields in the future due to high levels of lead “several inches below the surface.”

NYC Parks and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will be sampling soil in the remaining areas of the park (Soccer Field 3, and Ball Fields 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the surrounding areas) in Fall 2015.

Get More Details at This Meeting

You can learn more about the recent test results and the plan for clean-up throughout the park by attending this public meeting:

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Miccio Center Gymnasium
110 West 9th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231

What’s The Plan for Clean-Up?

Red Hook ball fields #5-8 are closed until cleanup can take place. Photo credit: Emily Manley via NYER.

In terms of clean-up, much of the process will be conducted by NYC Parks under EPA oversight. Because it is such a large project, officials estimate that planning for and engineering the cleanup will take more than a year.

For ball fields 5-9, NYC Parks will first remove all park features such as fencing, curbing and other structures. A layer of plastic sheeting will be added to the fields, and then covered with one foot of clean soil. The baseball diamonds, grass cover, fencing, walkways, and associated structures will then be reinstalled.

According to the EPA,

“Controls will be put in place to make sure the public is not exposed to any contaminants during construction. This cleanup method will permanently eliminate public contact with contaminants by isolating them under the plastic sheeting and one foot of clean soil. This will also serve to prevent any future spread of contaminated soils from these ball fields.”

As for soccer fields 1, 2, and 6, NYC Parks is in the process of planning their renovation, including securing funding, setting a time frame and choosing a method, which may include installation of artificial turf.

Any actions for the remaining areas of the park, including soccer field 3 and ball fields 1 through 4, will be determined once sampling results come back.

You can stay up-to-date on this project by visiting the EPA website.