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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is providing new topsoil to about 15 homes near a former smelting plant in Lincoln this spring.

Kevin Scherbak is among those receiving new dirt, sod and two weeks of watering as part of the federal remediation project to clean up contaminants left by an old smelting plant in Lincoln. The more than $290,000 project is cleaning up topsoil from residential properties with potentially high levels of lead, the Lincoln Journal Star reported .

Neighboring properties to Lincoln’s old Northwestern Metal Co. smelting plant were tested after smelting plants were discovered to be potential pollution sites. The plant operated in the area from 1918 to 1972. But lead carried in smoke binds to dirt and can remain in soil for hundreds of years.

Lead contamination can create health risks for pregnant women and young children, according to environmental experts.

“I’m glad they are finally doing it,” Scherbak said of receiving clean soil in the yard where his 10-year-old son plays.

The EPA and the state have identified 15 yards out of 64 sampled that are candidates for remediation, said Ben Washburn, EPA spokesman.

EPA staff first met with residents near the old plant five years ago. The agency focused on residential areas because that’s where staff believes there may be health risks to young children and pregnant women.

The remediation work is anticipated to be finished by the end of next month.