A draft plan for dealing with barium-laced dirt as crews build a new freeway west of downtown Modesto should be out in late June or early July.
Tests suggest people need not worry, the government says, but some neighbors fear that the dangerous metal eventually could seep into groundwater or be stirred up in the air when road construction starts in two or three years.
The plan should outline options such as capping soil with concrete or excavating the dirt and hauling it away.
It will be explained at public meetings to be announced later, said Carlos Yamzon, executive director of the Stanislaus Council of Governments.
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The dirt was excavated from a nearby barium processing plant 50 years ago and piled in linear berms south of Kansas Avenue to someday form the base of an elevated freeway segment from Highway 99 to Highway 132 and the Bay Area.