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EPA could soon prioritize cleaning up Capitol Lakes as part of federal program

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BATON ROUGE - On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency officially proposed adding the Capitol Lakes to the federal superfund list, which will prioritize funding to de-contaminate them.

For decades, the lakes have been riddled with toxins, but a test of the water just last year found traces of arsenic, lead, and a cancer causing chemical called Polychlorinated Biphenyls.

In the 80s, signs were put up around the lakes warning people not to eat any fish caught here, but some people still do.

Once funding is approved, the federal government will pay to clean up the lakes and then bill the companies they deem responsible for the contamination in the first place. According to a 1980s investigation, that could be the Kansas City Rail Road or a number of other sites where PCB's were found.

Local environmentalists praise the move but say it's only half the battle. Not only is the water itself toxic, a large portion of the city's litter drains into these lakes.

"Think of it as two parts that have to be solved separately. The city needs a stormwater program that will intercept the 41 bags plus of litter, and the EPA and state need to deal with what was done with the lakes years ago from the pollution of the lake bottom," said Marie Constantin, who frequently cleans trash out of the smaller lake.

If both these things are done, there are high hopes for the lakes.

"In the future, when they clean this up, I think this is going to be a huge draw for downtown to start bragging about it," Constantin added.

As of now, the EPA hasn't provided any timeline for when cleanup could start, but research will first need to be done to figure out the best way to solve the issue.

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