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You are here News Environment Plant explosion leaves town with fear of lead exposure and few answers

Plant explosion leaves town with fear of lead exposure and few answers

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Oakwood, Ohio explosion

Nearly a month after a metal-manufacturing plant exploded in the Cleveland suburb of Oakwood Village, Ohio, community and health advocates say they still don’t have clear answers to the urgent question of whether the blast released harmful levels of lead into the area. They’re also questioning why those living and working near the blast weren’t quickly informed that lead in the facility could pose a risk.

Investigators are still probing what caused the Feb. 20 blast at the I. Schumann & Co. plant, which according to WKYC-TV killed a 46-year-old maintenance worker and left 13 other people hospitalized. The afternoon explosion hurled billows of black smoke and flames into the air and scattered molten debris the length of a football field. The plant remains closed as the cleanup continues.

The incident has angered people in the wider community such as Yvonka M. Hall, a public health administrator who directs the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition and leads the volunteer-based Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH). Hall said government officials “dropped the ball” by not immediately telling residents the site of the explosion contained lead and had been previously cited by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for hazardous waste and disposal violations.


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