FORT MYERS, Fla. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held a meeting Thursday demanding action to cleanup a former dump site in Dunbar.
Lee County NAACP President James Muwakkil asked the Department of Environmental Protection to better inform the public about the process to cleanup contamination in and around the sludge site.
“Listen, you have a duty to educate the public, especially the area where people have been affected where they don’t know anything about their rights when it comes to the environment,” Muwakkil said.
Arsenic was found 10 years ago in the soil of a city-owned area bounded by Henderson Avenue on the west, Midway Avenue on the east, Jeffcott Street on the south and South Street on the north.
Muwakkil believes nearby residents’ rights were violated when the city dumped the toxic sludge in the 1960s.
“Are you kidding me? In Lee County, Florida … where it was only done in an African American community … you mean to tell me that it doesn’t dawn on everyone that this is environmental racism?” Muwakkil said.
Muwakkil wants residents to know they have the power to spark change in Dunbar by filing a civil rights complaint.
“Not only is it our right to seek redress when we have grievances against our government, it’s our responsibility,” Muwakkil said.
Testing in 2012 confirmed arsenic was in the soil. Results from testing done one month ago have not yet been released.