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Fort Myers City manager: sludge site action will happen by end of year

Posted at 11:07 PM, Jan 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-25 23:07:49-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Fort Myers City Manager says, Thursday, changes to the controversial South Street sludge-dumping site could come as soon as the end of the year.

Several dozen people in the Dunbar community in Fort Myers met with officials at the Dr. Carrie Robinson event center, to talk about the arsenic-laced South Street sludge dumping site. Last week, during a city council workshop, a company hired by the city presented test results, that showed the arsenic is not a direct result of the city dumping lime-sludge in the area in the 60's. The company also said the results mean there is no health risk to the surrounding neighborhood. The results determined the site does not need to be remediated, should the city decide to go that route. 

Thursday, residents heard the results from experts, and felt outraged to hear doing nothing is an option on the table. They tell 4 In Your Corner's reporters they are apprehensive to believe there truly is no health risk associated with the site.

The meeting provided little comfort for residents, who believe action needs to be taken immediately. "It's our neighborhood. You did this stuff to us, and now you want to bring all your little sophisticated folk to tell us how we ought to respond to what you're doing to us. We want it cleaned entirely up."

City Manager Saeed Kazemi said action will be determined by the feedback residents left at the meeting. Several comment boxes were set up around the event space for residents to write down what they want the city to do with the site. Kazemi said whether the action is to do nothing, or completely remediate the site, a decision will be made soon. "I'm hoping by the end of the year we start doing something. It will be sooner than that, but by the end of the year we will know where we are headed."

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection weighed in on the test results, Wednesday. Department officials addressed a letter to Kazemi, in which they demanded a more in depth analysis to prove arsenic is not linked to the sludge. This may include installing more, deeper wells to obtain samples.  Only after a deeper analysis, can the city determine whether taking no action is an appropriate option, in accordance with state clean-up guidelines.