Councilman discusses arsenic levels found outside Dunbar sludge site

Dunbar residents upset over a lack of disclosure about arsenic in and around a former dump site are heard from their City Council representative.

The dump site was the primary topic of discussion when Councilman Johnny Streets addressed the public in a meeting on problems plaguing the city that began at 2 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

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

A series of tests have shown elevated levels of arsenic in wells both on and off the site close to homes, where the city used to dispose of sludge from a water treatment plant.

Streets told residents his main priority was the public’s health. He suggested those living near the sludge site, who fear for their safety, should get medical testing done.

“We don’t have time to waste,” Streets said. “All I can say is I’m going to be upfront and candid.”

Residents like Paige Scusche want to know exactly when clean up will begin in the area, a question she says has not been answered.

“They’re not willing to at this point start talking about what is the way to remediate the site,” Scusche said.

Arsenic was initially discovered in 2007, but those results weren’t made public until this year. The city has received harsh criticism from the Department of Environmental Protection and Sen. Bill Nelson over its hesitance to release preliminary results from tests conducted this fall.

City Manager Saeed Kazemi said he didn’t want to disclose the results until they were certified and had been reviewed by a consultant.

DUNBAR TOXIC SLUDGE SITE TIMELINE

June 12 – Former toxic dump site in Dunbar exposed by the media

June 14Fort Myers mayor responds to dump site arsenic claims

June 23City council announces plan to clean up former toxic dump site 

July 17 – City officials pledge more transparent approach

July 18 – Fort Myers mayor at loss over why site was kept secret

July 25 Residents to sue Fort Myers over former toxic dump site

August 2Residents voice concerns at public forum

August 16Department of Environmental Protection begins testing

August 23 – Crews replace well at Dunbar sludge site

October 18Geology firm GFA International begins testing for toxins

October 24 More than 25 residents work with Atty. Ralf Brooks to hold city accountable

November 16NAACP calls lack of action ‘environmental racism’

November 29 – DEP blasts Fort Myers over handling of Dunbar sludge tests

December 1 – Sen. Nelson says residents ‘deserve to know’ Dunbar sludge results

December 4 – Fort Myers City Council OKs $150K for legal defense as Dunbar sludge lawsuits loom

December 5  Residents: Dunbar sludge results difficult to read

December 7 – Fort Myers councilman wants feds to probe Dunbar sludge

December 19 – Higher levels, new locations: Arsenic levels found outside sludge site

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