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Fort Myers needs backup plan for sludge removal

Posted at 7:37 PM, Dec 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-07 07:48:38-05

FORT MYERS, Fla, -- The City of Fort Myers looks for an alternate way to remove waste from the Dunbar neighborhood after plans fall through to transport it to Alabama.

City Manager Saeed Kazemi said the transport of the waste from the sludge sight to Theodore, Alabama has come to a standstill because it's not practical. He said regardless of the setback the city's dedicated to clearing Dunbar of the waste.

"The city’s commitment is to remove the sludge and it’s going to be done. We’re just working on the plans where to go and how to go there," he said.

But that’s what people living in the neighborhood thought was happening already when the test removal started last week. When trucks loaded up sludge, residents were told the waste would be taken to the LafargeHolcim plant in Alabama to get recycled into construction materials.

And as for reports that the plant LafargeHolcim is rejecting the sludge because it's took toxic, Kazemi says that’s just not true.

”No it’s because of the distance and the traffic. The distance with the traveling. But that’s what the contractor that we have a contract with is working to come up with a plan B," he said.

LafargeHolcim has not responded for comment as of Thursday night.

Councilman Johnny Streets, who represents Ward 2 where the sludge site is, said the city should’ve thought this through in the beginning.

"That’s our fault. That’s not the people’s fault," he said.

He said it the city's responsibility to anticipate problems during the planning process and prepare for them.

"If we knew that this may be a possibility, or a problem, why is there not a plan B? That’s my point," said Streets.

Streets added he felt blind sighted that he learned of the transport issue through news reports before hearing it from the city manager. He said constituents haven't approached him in this case but gave an example.

"That's embarassing. Maybe one of my constituents calls me or sees me on the street and says 'hey what's going on with so and so? Well that's in your ward, I thought you might know.'" He said if that happened, I would have to say, "No, I didn't know."

Kazemi said as soon as the city comes up with a plan he’ll notify the public.