Lead tainting Geneva’s soil kept hidden for 30 years

Thirty years ago, New York state officials first uncovered evidence that toxic metals from an old foundry in this historic Finger Lakes city had contaminated an adjoining neighborhood.

A state environmental health expert concluded then that people were at risk of lead poisoning and neighbors should be warned. “Young children (those prone to placing fingers, other objects or dirt in their mouths) are of particular concern,” the expert, Dr. John Hawley, wrote in an internal memorandum in June 1987.

A decade later, consultants presented additional evidence to state and city of Geneva officials that the toxic contamination was widespread in that same near-north side neighborhood.

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