Soil & Property Testing

Website Banner 2

Soil and Property Testing Underway in 

Walltown, East End, East Durham, Lyon, and Northgate Parks

Nota importante: esta página puede ser traducida utilizando el botón de Traductor de Google. Utilice el botón localizado en la esquina inferior derecha para ver esta página en otros idiomas.

Latest Updates

November 20, 2023

In August 2023, the Soil Assessment Report from Mid-Atlantic Associates was released and we shared the reported findings with our community.

As a result of the findings, areas where lead was found above the EPA threshold in all five assessed parks were marked with bilingual signage and fenced off to prohibit access while we determined next steps and opportunities for remediation.

At that time, we also shared that the findings had been submitted to North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) for review, as well as our anticipated next steps including:

  • Further investigation into the source of the lead.
  • Figuring out strategies to remediate and prevent potential future exposure.
  • Connecting the community with public health experts and information.
  • Continuing to meet with community and subject matter experts.
  • Providing extensive updates through multiple communication channels.

After coordinated work between the City, Mid-Atlantic Associates, and NCDEQ, we now have additional updates to share.

We have been informed by NCDEQ that all five parks have qualified for the State’s Pre-Regulatory Landfill Program, which was established to remediate land areas on which municipal solid waste disposal occurred prior to January 1, 1983. This is an opportunity for us to receive additional resources and funding to remediate park spaces that measured above the EPA threshold for lead.

Over the next two months, representatives from the Pre-regulatory Landfill Program will complete additional research and surveying at these five parks which will allow them to prioritize each location amongst the nearly 700 other pre-regulatory landfill sites throughout North Carolina. They will review these five parks for elements, such as:

  • Potable drinking wells on-site or within 1,000 feet of contamination.
  • Schools and churches on-site or within 1,000 feet of contamination.

Guidelines for NCDEQ’s Addressing Pre-Regulatory Landfills and Dumps can be found here.

Once NCDEQ notifies the City of the prioritization, in-person community conversations will be held to:

  • Provide the latest information.
  • Discuss the Pre-Regulatory Landfill Program and how NCDEQ can assist.
  • Share where each park is ranked in their statewide program.
  • Discuss what this means for short- and long-term solutions.

Once the dates, times and locations of these in-person community conversations are scheduled in early 2024, we’ll be sure to share those details on our project webpage, in an email to subscribers, and through our social media channels.

In the meantime, locations in the five parks will continue to be fenced off from the public and bilingual signage will remain in place.

The safety of our park visitors continues to be top priority for us and we remain committed to finding a solution to address this issue in our five parks.

Previous Updates
  1. August 23 Update
  2. August 17 Update
  3. August 11 Update
  4. August 4 Preliminary Findings

Click document images to expand.

FINAL Plain Language SummarySpanish

undefined Opens in new window

Project Description

On June 1, 2023, the City of Durham received a report created by a student enrolled in Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. The report recommended further soil assessments be conducted in certain areas of Walltown, East End, and East Durham Parks due to findings of soil lead amounts as part of their student research project. The student report also recommended that we assess Lyon and Northgate Parks, based on historical accounts of the land use prior to becoming parks approximately 70 years ago.

The safety of our residents, employees, and guests is a priority we take seriously. Therefore, we immediately contracted for an independent, scientific assessment to be completed with a contractor certified by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) to conduct environmental assessments.

Mid-Atlantic Preliminary Soil Assessment Maps

East Durham Park - Click to expand


Walltown Park - Click to expand


East End Park - Click to expand


Original Lead Contamination Study Maps - Click to expand

2023 Lead Study Map - East Durham Park
2023 Lead Study Map - Walltown Park
2023 Lead Study Map - East End Park
Environmental Assessment Experts Hired

Soil Assessment Work Plan

Pages from 2023_07_14_CoD_Lead_Work_Plan_FINAL

Work Plan Summary

Soil Property Testing Handout July Final

En Español

En Espanol
*Final findings now expected by August 15

Founded in 1993, Mid-Atlantic Associates is an engineering and environmental consulting firm that has worked in Durham for a number of years and provided their expertise on many large-scale projects, including a Brownfields assessment and remediation services to support the redevelopment of Golden Belt in downtown Durham.

Mid-Atlantic will conduct an environmental assessment of all five parks following the guidelines established through the NCDEQ’s Registered Environmental Consultant Program.

The work plan for the City’s multi-park soil assessment is complete. This plan directs and outlines Mid-Atlantic on how they’ll perform this study, to include but not limited to:

  • Where they’ll collect samples (including playground sites)
  • How they'll collect samples using the guidance, best practices, and methodology of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ).
  • When, where, and how elements in addition to lead will be analyzed.

This plan extensively builds upon the data initially collected by the former Duke student by going beyond their initial research and using industry best practice tools and methodology approved and supported by the EPA and the NCDEQ. Second, the plan’s scope of work was informed by a collection of resident feedback, subject matter experts, and public health officials.

Environmental Assessment Timeline

Week of July 17

Mid-Atlantic to begin implementing the work plan and collecting soil samples (weather dependent) at Northgate, Lyon, East End, East Durham and Walltown parks.

Sample collection will not interfere with normal park use.

Week of July 24

Anticipated completion of soil sampling (weather dependent).

Now expected by August 15

Soil analysis to be completed and the findings made available to the NCDEQ and the City of Durham.

Anticipated Next Steps:

Once sample collection and analysis are complete, the City will publicly share the findings and provide any future plans, next steps, or further study recommendations through multiple communication methods and venues including, but not limited to:

  • Public meeting(s)
  • Directly contacting neighborhood representatives and liaisons near the five parks
  • Neighborhood Improvement Services Department community engagement teams
  • Community partners and networks
  • DPR’s Soil & Property Testing webpage
  • Social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Instagram Threads, and Nextdoor from @CityofDurhamNC and @dprplaymore channels
  • City Connect and/or Durham Digest newsletter articles
  • News release issued to local print, television, and radio media outlets
Continued Operation of Our Parks

In addition to the health and safety of our residents, we take any reduced access or potential park closures seriously as we know how important our parks are to our community. We have consulted with Mid-Atlantic Associates and the Durham County Department of Public Health about the risks of continued operations of these five parks based on the maps provided in the student report. We’ve also reviewed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and State statutes that guide lead abatement and remediation work. 

While originally no play areas were identified as potentially concerning, one soil sample at an unlined playground at Northgate Park tested above the EPA threshold and has been closed as of August 11.

Therefore, as these soil assessments take place in June and July, they will not interfere with the normal programs or operations at these five parks. 

Public Health Information

The Durham County Department of Public Health manages the Lead Education and Assessment Program (LEAP), which offers services to increase lead education and awareness. 

LEAP's website has helpful information about ways you can protect your family from possible lead exposure. Visit their website, email their staff, or call 919-560-4842 for further information and assistance.

Public Outreach

Upcoming Community Meetings

To be announced.


Park Signage - English and Spanish

Please do not enter marked area
Do not wade in creek
Por favor, no entre al área marcada
No está permitidocaminar en el arroyo

Transparency and communication are priorities for us. We will continue to update the public through multiple communication methods as findings, future plans, next steps, and further recommendations become available. 

We also understand that parents and park visitors may have questions or concerns about visiting these five parks while our environmental assessments are underway. We’ve developed the above frequently asked questions to help residents make decisions that best fit their comfort levels when deciding to visit one of these parks. 

With more than 65 parks available to our residents, we also have many great places to play this summer so families and park visitors have other options for play, if they so choose.

Bilingual signage has been installed to notify park visitors of the environmental assessments underway with a QR code directing visitors to this project website and more information.

June 29 - Public Information Meeting