SHEPHERD, Mont. - On August 11, 2019, a destructive hail storm pummeled the Shepherd area, and many Shepherd residents -- including former contractor Ken Castillo and his wife Nansi Castillo -- are still dealing with the aftermath.  Castillo says the hail storm thrashed his house, requiring the need for repairs.  Many of the homes in Shepherd were built in the 1970s or earlier using lead-based paint, and now the paint is starting to chip off.

"This original lap siding is from 1972, so the statistical probability of it being lead paint is probably over 80%," says Ken Castillo, "a lot of people don't know about it or it's the last thing on there mind is lead paint... their number one thought is, let's just fix the house."

The paint chips may seem harmless, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, high levels of exposure to lead may cause lead poisoning and other health problems such as anemia and impaired brain function. 

Castillo says if the paint chips are lead-based, he is afraid contaminants could seep into the ground.

"Our water table is only about fourteen feet, so the heavy metal of lead will soak into the ground and get into your drinking water," says Castillo.

Castillo says he and his neighbors are also concerned about their animals nibbling on the paint chips.  He thinks the potentially poisonous paint could seriously harm or kill animals, and for many Shepherd residents -- raising livestock is their way of life and main source of income.

Castillo says he contacted several insurance companies to run tests on the paint, "the insurance companies seem to all be unwilling to tackle this or even address this because they know it'll become hazardous waste clean up required under federal reporting regulations, and now a simple few thousand dollar job jumps to 20, 30, 40, 50 thousand or more because of the hazardous waste."

The Castillos' animals are okay as of October 16, 2019, but we will keep an eye on the situation in case anything further develops.

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