Kolekole Gulch Park on Hawaii Island is closed indefinitely after high levels of lead were found in soil throughout much of the park.
"Right now we have actually closed the park, closed the restrooms, and DOT is bringing signage to put up on the gate and inside the park itself. We also put out public notifications," said Charmaine Kamaka, Director of Parks and Recreation for Hawaii County.
The state has determined the lead levels exceed "environmental action levels."
"Action levels are 200 and levels in the park range from a low of 272 to a high of 664," Kamaka said.
The health department says because there is not much soil in the stream or on the banks the water is safe. However, there are concerns about people being exposed to lead in the park.
"The primary concern we would have is if kids at the park were digging through the grass, getting to the soil and then inadvertently ingesting that soil," said John Peard from the health department's Hazard Evaluation & Emergency Response Office.
Health officials believe the source of contamination is the Kolekole Bridge. In 2015, they say contaminated soil was found during a reconstruction project of Umauma Bridge located about two miles up the road. That prompted testing at nearby Hakalau Bridge, which also had high lead levels. The department says lead-based paint was used on these structures decades ago.
Further assessments are being conducted, and the county is working with both the state health and transportation departments to determine next steps.
There's no timeline for mitigation work or estimated costs for the project.
If you believe you were exposed to contaminated soil, you are advised to contact your health physician.