Fort Myers residents ask questions, express concerns of possible toxic sludge

Posted at 7:10 PM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-02 06:43:46-04

People in the Dunbar Community in Fort Myers were able to voice their concerns Tuesday night about potentially toxic land in their neighborhood.

Land between Henderson and Midway avenues in the 1960's served as a dumping site for a water treatment plant. Many neighbors are worried arsenic may still be in the soil and putting their health at risk.

The public meeting was held at the Dr. Carrie D. Robinson Center, and was meant for residents and community members to discuss the upcoming environmental site assessment of the seventeen city owned lots at 3348 South St. in Fort Myers.

Right now, the lots are fenced in and considered a no trespassing zone.

City Manager Saad Kazemi, says the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has thoroughly reviewed and approved a plan to asses the site.

The testing will assess the area where the City deposited lime sludge in the 1960s before the neighborhood was established. In 2007, the sludge was determined to contain arsenic. The City says the most recent testing in 2016 show that the groundwater is not a risk to human health and the environment.

"We are unaware of the danger that this could have placed on all of us over the period of time," a resident said.

"Right now we pretty much buy our water or boil whatever we have," another resident said.

Residents we spoke to said they would be attending the meeting to express their concerns and ask what the land assessment process will entail.

"I just want to be sure I'm safe to live here," another resident said. "There are neighbors who have passed away with unknown reasons and I want to know if this has anything to do with it."

People living within a quarter-mile of the testing site received a letter from the City Manager explaining the plan to study the soil and groundwater.

The work plan can be viewed here.

After community input is received, a final testing plan will be developed and reviewed by FDEP befire the site assessment begins.

The testing plan also includes a well survey. Results may take approximately six weeks to receive the results.