Researchers, advocates working to remove contamination from east Greensboro park

North Carolina

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A team of researchers, advocates and Cottage Grove residents are working with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to remove contamination in Bingham Park.

The park was built on top of an unlined landfill used until the mid-1950s.

“They’ve been talking about it and talking about it for years. I think they’re finally going to get something done,” said Verna Torain, the president of Cottage Grove Neighborhood Association.

Torain has lived in the community for about 30 years and is hopeful remediation helps revitalize the park.

“We don’t want a patch up deal,” she said.

Researchers are planning to gather water and soil samples in the next few weeks to better understand the contamination, and if toxins impact nearby Buffalo Creek.

“When you walk through a park that’s contaminated with different metals and things like that, that could affect your health,” said Patricia Macfoy, executive director for New Hope Community Development Group.

The team is also surveying people living nearby about their health conditions.

“Pulling cancer registrations, to understand what are the impacts of having a landfill directly in your community, and what were the long term health effects,” said Sel MPang, community associate for Greensboro Housing Coalition.

She said advocates are working with NCDEQ on a plan for a long term solution for remediation.

“There were two options that were presented to us by the department, one of them we felt was a Band-Aid fix,” she said.

Bingham Park is one of about 700 similar sites in the state.

“That is an environmental injustice, it’s primarily in African American communities that this is happening,” Macfoy said.

There’s no set timeline for changes at Bingham Park. Researchers said one of the challenges for removal is how close the park is to nearby homes.

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