Testing begins on Dunbar toxic sludge site

FORT MYERS, Fla. Testing began Wednesday on a site where toxic sludge was once dumped near homes in Dunbar.

Geologists from the Department of Environmental Protection rolled equipment, including a ground-penetrating radar, onto the area where the city stored waste from its water treatment plant for decades, and where arsenic was discovered in 2007.

Wednesday’s analysis won’t identify contamination but can help scientists discover more about the soil there and what’s in it.

“If we see abnormalities in that, we know there’s something else we should sample or test for,” DEP crew member Jon Iglehart said.

Results will be ready in about two weeks.

The same tests will also go on at homes near the site, which is bounded by Henderson Avenue on the west, Midway Avenue on the east, Jeffcott Street on the south and South Street on the north. About 15 homeowners signed off to let the DEP on their property, and more can do so by calling DEP South District Office representative Terry Cerullo at 239-344-5600.

“Any test they want to do on our property, we’ll do it,” nearby resident Rickey Rogers said.

Rogers has been hospitalized with stomach problems in the past, but no cause was ever found, he said. Many in the community expressed outrage and worry after news leaked just this year about the discovery of arsenic 10 years ago.

The public is the catalyst for the latest round of tests.

“I don’t know if this has something to do with it,” Rogers said of his stomach problem, “but I would like to know.”

Reporter:Britni McDonald