Things were looking up for Jordan Downs. The Watts housing project, built in the 1940s and '50s, was scheduled to undergo a gamechanging $1-billion overhaul to turn it into a 119-acre mixed-income complex with as many as 1,800 new apartments (replacing the 700 old ones), plus condos, retail, and restaurants. But the first phase of the massive project is supposed to include a groundbreaking on former industrial land—land that is "laced with lead, arsenic, oil and cancer-causing industrial chemicals from its past use as a steel factory," reports the LA Times. Undaunted, the Housing Authority says they can and will fix it. They plan to clean up the site, remove the "thousands of truckloads" of toxic material, and replace the it with new, non-toxic dirt. But residents and activists, already somewhat skeptical of a massive redevelopment of their affordable housing, say they'd like to know more about how the process will work.
And maybe they should be: The city's draft remediation plan only calls for reducing lead to 315 parts per million, way way above the state's 80 ppm standard for residential areas. The state says they won't approve the cleanup unless it meets the 80 ppm standard, but environmentalists and residents are understandably not convinced.
Previous surveys of the future Jordan Downs site found contaminants like arsenic were at levels high enough to be an "unacceptable" risk to the health of future occupants, and we already know that Watts is one of the most polluted places in California (and by far the deadliest). Meanwhile the Housing Authority, which says it'll do whatever the state says, is hoping to move forward with its removal of the contaminated soil and is waiting to get the ok to start trucking the stuff out in the spring.
· Soil contamination a hurdle for new Jordan Downs housing plan [LA Times]
· Jordan Downs Archives [Curbed LA]