Vilseck residents told to avoid playgrounds pending results of tests for lead
VILSECK, Germany — Residents in Vilseck have been warned to avoid three playgrounds and portions of a fourth until results from a final round of testing for lead contamination can be analyzed, base officials said Wednesday.
Soil and sand from the Monticello/Liberty Court, Tahoe Court and Rio Grande Drive playgrounds are still being scrutinized for lead content, and those playgrounds should be avoided until results come back from the lab, likely by the end of the month, said John Svalina, a local representative for the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine Europe.
Likewise, a series of handrails on staircases leading into the Empire Court playground in Vilseck also has tested positive for lead and shouldn’t be used while base officials come up with a plan to have them removed, said Patrick Bennett, acting director for the 100th Areas Support Group’s Directorate of Public Works.
The latest announcements on playground contamination stemming from lead-based paint on equipment in Grafenwöhr, Vilseck and Hohenfels came as part of a wrap-up delivered Wednesday at a public meeting in Vilseck on two months of testing in the three communities.
Figures handed out by Svalina at the meeting showed that about one-quarter of ASG playground apparatuses with painted surfaces contained a lead-based paint with unacceptable concentrations of the heavy metal.
Out of about 150 pieces of equipment analyzed, 38 tested positive for the paint, the majority of them, 23, in Vilseck, Wednesday’s numbers showed.
The DPW has been working since late May to root out lead-based paint on local playgrounds first discovered by Svalina at a Department of Defense Dependents Schools facility. Testing was gradually expanded to include all equipment in the ASG, and even the sand and soil under it.
Equipment has been getting gradually removed by base workers and manufacturers as rounds of testing have been completed, and 37 out of 38 are already gone, Svalina said Wednesday. The remaining piece, in Vilseck, is expected to be removed by Friday.
As part of the expanded hunt for lead, sand and soil samples from 11 of the 14 affected playgrounds have also been ordered; eight have so far been tested and cleared, but the three remaining areas — Liberty, Tahoe and Rio Grande — should not be used until results come back next week, base officials said.
Officials from the 100th ASG have also extended testing to include spot checks at off-post build-to-lease housing areas in the vicinity, but tests are expected to come back negative, Bennett said. Results from that analysis should be available by the end of next week, Svalina said.