WRTV Investigates


Environmental Expert: Chemical levels at Sandorf Park a major concern, more testing needed

Sandorf Park.JPG
Posted at 10:51 AM, Apr 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-09 10:51:50-04

INDIANAPOLIS — For nearly a year now, fences have blocked the entrance of and all the way around Sandorf Park on Indy's near southeast side.

The fencing went up in May 2018 in an effort to stop people from going into the park after the the city discovered high levels of lead and arsenic in the soil.

"Some of the values particularly for the heavy metal lead were very high, such that they would be extremely unsafe for adults or children," Gabriel Filippelli, a professor of Earth Sciences and the Director of Urban Health at IUPUI, tells Call 6 Investigates' Paris Lewbel.

PREVIOUS | Dangerous chemicals found in Indianapolis park

We brought the testing documents we obtained from the city and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to Filippelli. He says the park's property is what is known as a "ghost factory."

"We have no evidence now that they were former dumping grounds or industrial operations, because they're not zoned that way," Filippelli said. "They're just sitting out there in cities and as cities redevelop, like Indianapolis has, we have the potential for unearthing a lot of these properties."

Filippelli is concerned that the city didn't go far enough to test the surface soil.

"My concern is for the generations of kids who played in that park. I don't know because the results didn't indicate whether the surface soils are contaminated or not."

None of the testing documents showed any surface soil tests from the middle of the park, where kids were most likely to play.

"I would support significantly more testing, including some surface soil testing to make sure that isn't an issue," Filippelli said.

We asked the city of Indianapolis why surface soil testing didn't occur in the middle of the park. They told us, "All test results were conducted in accordance with state recommendations from IDEM."

IndyParks had planned to revitalize the park back in April 2018. Initial planned show them adding state-of-the-art play structures, outdoor exercise equipment, a zipline and more.

Documents show the city first knew about the high levels of dangerous chemicals in May, but the city had kept the results under wraps. In March, the city told Call 6 there is no threat to the community around the park; it's merely the soil inside the enclosure.

The timeframe for the park is not yet determined because of IDEM is currently reviewing all test results and has not yet approved the plan for the property.