Arsenic in wells at Dunbar site not caused by toxic sludge

The company overseeing testing results at a former sludge dumping site in Dunbar claims arsenic is coming from an “unknown source.”

The City of Fort Myers and Black and Veatch Consulting held a meeting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to answer the questions and concerns of residents.

Arsenic was discovered at the site in 2007, and in the groundwater there in 2012, but those results didn’t become public until early 2017. An outcry led the city to test the site again in recent months.

SERIESClick here for complete coverage of Dunbar toxic sludge site

While city leaders previously stated the dumping took place from 1962 to 1967, Black and Veatch Consulting explained at the meeting that the dumping actually went on for a decade.

The consulting company also stated there is no evidence that shows the arsenic found inside the toxic sludge made it into the ground water.

While preliminary results from the latest test showed elevated levels of arsenic in four of the six wells there, the consulting company says that toxin is coming from an “unknown source.”

“The fact there is essentially no leachate containing arsenic from the sludge material says that the lime sludge is not leeching arsenic to groundwater,” Black and Veatch Consulting spokeswoman Barbara Butler said.

The detected soil arsenic concentrations do not pose a short or long-term health concern to people in the surrounding neighborhood, according to Black and Veatch Consulting.

But Dunbar residents say they don’t seem to buy the information presented because the facts don’t line up with what the city has been saying for months.

“I feel like that’s a lie because you said it leaked before, but now its not. You understand, which one is it? This is nothing but the city trying to cover its behind,” Dunbar resident Crystal Johnson said.

The next meeting is scheduled to be held on Jan. 25

To view the environmental assessment, click here.

To view the GFA International Phase One Progress Report, click here.

Writer:Katherine Viloria
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