Residents Say the EPA's Clean Up Plan Is Not Enough
It could be the last hope for neighbors to influence the plan to clean up Gainesville's superfund site. County Commissioners are planning tomorrow to vote on the Federal Government's plan to clean up the Koppers' site.
City Commissioners gave their stamp of approval last week. Even though it has no standing with the feds, neighbors hope County Commissioners will vote against the plan...hoping to get out of homes they say are toxic.
Hundreds of people living near the superfund site say this clean up plan doesn't address the issues that are literally plaguing them: specifically contamination inside of their homes, which the plan does not make provision for.
Shantell Jones said, "We're just stuck." Jones is a mother of three. She says her family didn't know they were moving into a contaminated home on the edge of the superfund site. She said, "It's just a very scary thought for your kids to live in conditions like this."
Jones says every member of her household has experienced health problems since moving in more than a year ago.
President of the Stephen Foster Neighborhood Association, Inc. Sandra Kennedy moved to get her eleven year old daughter out of harms way and says she has proof there is dioxin contamination in homes up to 2 miles from the superfund site. Kennedy said, "We were shocked when the test results came back at higher than one thousand five hundred parts per trillion indoors."
This data was compiled by the law firm representing the hundreds of residents who are suing Cabot-Koppers. They say it will prove their homes are not safe and will force the owner of the superfund site to pay for them to move. Kennedy said, "This home is only one of hundreds of homes. This family is one of only hundreds of families."
The state health department will now have to verify the data recently released by the residents' attorney.
After years of negotiation and input, the local team designated to study the plan concluded that although it doesn't have everything they want, this decision is probably as good as it's going to get.
Director of Alachua County Environmental Protection Department Chris Bird said, "The part we were pleased to report is that EPA has committed to cleaning up the neighborhood to a more protective state clean up standard for dioxin in soils."
The local team is committing to closely monitor the progress and to make sure that concerns such as dust contamination are addressed. This clean up plan is more extensive than the original proposal from the Federal government, but those I spoke with today say it's not enough.
And they'll petition the county tomorrow to go to Washington if necessary. Kennedy said, "We are hoping that the county does not mirror the city. And that they will support us in our bid for permanent relocation, which is what we need."
The EPA plan is final, but the residents believe if the County Commission says it's not enough it will help their case to be relocated.
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- Alachua County Commissioners Respond to the Koppers Clean Up Plan
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