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Environmental Official Calls Tijuana Soil Cleanup Historic

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The final cleanup of an abandoned lead smelter in Tijuana starts in October. A San Diego group led efforts to get the Mexican government to pay for removing toxic soil. KPBS reporter Ed Joyce has more.

A San Diego-based owner operated the Tijuana smelting plant, but abandoned the operation in 1994 when charged with violating Mexican environmental laws. Several tons of lead-contaminated soil was left behind.

Ameila Simpson oversees border environmental issues for the National City-based Environmental Health Coalition . She calls the funding of the cleanup historic.

Simpson : This is the first time the Mexican government has worked with the community on cleanup of a toxic site. The money will, just a little under $1 million, completes the cleanup plan.

The initial cleanup started in 2004. She says the money will pay for the excavation of a pit on the site where contaminated waste mixed with concrete will be contained in a lined cell. The plan calls for the long-term monitoring of the site.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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