Alachua County Commissioners Respond to the Koppers Clean Up Plan
Alachua County Commissioners are formally weighing in on the federal government's plan to clean up the superfund site in Northwest Gainesville.
Even though the EPA's decision is final, commissioners hope it really isn't.
The $89 million clean up planned for the Cabot Koppers Superfund site in is more thorough than earlier proposals, but most of those familiar with the contamination say it still falls far short of a true clean up.
President of the Stephen Foster Neighborhood Association Robert Pearce said, "We are all justifiably disappointed that EPA's record of decision does not go nearly as far as we all wanted. It does not include removal of contaminates from the site and there will be limitations on reuse."
Last week City Commissioners heard details of the decision and decided to draft a letter about some of the concerns that aren't acknowledged in the record of decision. Today, County Commissioners did the same, joining the city in confronting the EPA.
Chair Lee Pinkoson said, "What we're trying to do is make sure that we continue to act as a squeaky wheel for the residents."
The city, county and residents are all concerned about something the EPA plan does not address: the possibility that contaminated dust from the superfund site is making it's way into nearby homes. Resident Susan Sheets said, "Address the issues not just on site, but particularly off site in the testing of our homes."
The presentation highlighted several major aspects of the plan influenced by local input, like better standards for dioxins in soil and more aggressive protection of our water supply, but the inter-local team says the work isn't finished.
Alachua County Environmental Protection Department Director Chris Bird said, "But the recorded decision does provide that if data comes in that warrants more action then we can deal with that issue."
The county also wants staff to look into ways to support the residents who are suing Beazer East. It will be a long road to improvement even after the EPA finishes negotiations with the responsible company and close monitoring will be essential.
The frustration felt by those most directly affected isn't going away.
Resident Maria Parsons said, "And say hell no, I will defend our city, I will defend our water, I will stand up and defend our citizens who are sick and dying."
It's a final decision that neighbors hope isn't final...if late data from testing nearby homes warrants a change.
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