Toxic waste holds up construction at Scissortail Park South in Oklahoma City

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Toxic waste has held up construction on part of Scissortail Park. High lead levels in the soil, thanks to old car batteries, have delayed crews and led to budget overruns.

Construction continues on the south side of Scissortail Park, but city officials in Oklahoma City say underground road blocks have led them to have to dip into extra funds to keep their schedule.

“That area was very vegetated, which typically leads you to believe it was not a nasty, hazardous environmental issue,” said David Todd, Maps Program Manager.

When crews started moving dirt along the far southwest edge of the park earlier this summer, they found a full layer of old car battery casings. Officials say it’s an area 20 feet square and five feet deep. They say the lead had been removed from the plastic, but lead levels in the soil were still too high.

“Its not a complete surprise. There were two salvage yards in that area. It was known as hubcap alley,” said Todd.

Officials say an outside toxic waste crew has been called, and they are in the process of digging up the toxic waste and transporting it to an appropriate landfill in Waynoka. The projected cost for this is over $430,000. Running into other roadblocks earlier, like buried storage tanks and building foundations, the South Scissortail project had already used up their overrun money. So, last week, the OKC City Council approved using extra general MAPS money to cover it.

“The park as it is right now is fully funded,” said Todd.

The 30 acre park extension runs south from the bridge along Robinson to 15th. It is slated to have multiple sports fields and courts, but officials say the corner of the park where the waste was found will be a grassy area when completed.

But some ask why this problem wasn’t detected in the initial land and soil survey.

“We did do environmental test for the whole site and they came back very clean. This area was so small and it was deep and it’s not so significant that it really showed up,” said Todd.

Officials say crews should be able to get back to regular work on the section by early next week. Officials say the entire park is still on schedule to open August of 2022.

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