Sen. Nelson: Residents ‘deserve to know’ Dunbar sludge results

FORT MYERS, Fla. The city’s handling of test results showing arsenic in Dunbar has caught the eye of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

The Florida Democrat is urging swift public notice be made of the preliminary results showing elevated levels of arsenic in four of six wells tested at a site where sludge from a water treatment was dumped decades ago.

The area bounded in red shows the site in Dunbar where sludge from a water treatment plant was disposed of.

Nelson made his statements in a letter dated Friday and addressed to Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt.

That came on the heels of a Department of Environmental Protection letter to City Manager Saeed Kazemi that scolded the city for failing to share those preliminary results with the department, even though the city has had the results for two weeks.

“This lack of coordination and communication between state and local officials gravely concerns me, which is why I am again encouraging EPA to intervene,” Nelson wrote.

Read Nelson’s entire letter below:

Nelson first wrote to Pruitt in August, two months after the revelation that tests conducted in 2007 showed arsenic at the site. The senator’s latest letter calls on the EPA to request the results from the city.

Kazemi said Wednesday that he’s been waiting on the results to be certified and to be reviewed by a consultant, whom he did not name.

“I’m committed. I owe it to the people in that area to give them the right, accurate number,” Kazemi said on Wednesday. “Not piecemeal it. Not inaccurate, not uncertified.”

A public outcry over the news of the 2007 results prompted the city to conduct the new tests through GFA International Inc., an engineering firm. Nearby residents have threatened legal action and expressed anger over the lack of disclosure.

“Residents deserve to know the level of contamination found on a site that’s dangerously close to their homes, and they should receive official notice that this site is indeed contaminated as soon as it is detected,” Nelson wrote.