Long-awaited test results showing elevated levels of arsenic in Dunbar have been released.
But for those without advanced scientific degrees, deciphering the four lengthy certified reports the city posted on its website is easier said than done.
“It’s like Greek to me,” nearby resident Janice Watkins-Brown said. “You just looking at figures and numbers and that’s not explaining anything.”
Test results showed elevated levels of arsenic in 2007, and in the groundwater in 2012, but those results weren’t public until earlier this year.
Uproar over the city’s lack of disclosure led to the latest round of tests, but the city again came under fire when it labeled preliminary results showing elevated levels of arsenic in 4 of 6 wells as “inconclusive” and failed to release them to the public for weeks.
The Florida Department of Florida Environmental Protection criticized the city’s handling of those results in a letter to City Manager Saaed Kazemi, and Sen. Bill Nelson chastised the city in a letter to Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt.
Kazemi said the city didn’t release the preliminary results because they were waiting for the findings to be certified and reviewed by a consultant.
Watkins-Brown’s husband died of cancer 14 years ago, and now she wonders if the toxic sludge site played a role.
“They really need to come out and explain whether it’s dangerous, is it affecting people’s health?” Watkins-Brown said.
Nearby resident Milton Johnson wants to know how bad things are in the soil near his home.
“You just look at a lot of writing and stuff like this, to me it just don’t make sense,” Johnson said.
City leaders plan to hold a public meeting next month to discuss the certified results.
WINK News reached out to at least a dozen environmental consulting companies to decipher the results, but all have yet to respond.
UPDATE AS OF 7 P.M.
GFA International Inc., the geological firm that performed the tests, notified the city Tuesday morning that one of the monitoring wells installed last week for testing had been tampered with, according to the city.
The top of the well had been twisted off, causing it to fill with sand, the city said. The firm’s well driller confirmed it has since been repaired.
Testing on the well will resume Wednesday, the city said. The Fort Myers Police Department plans to increase patrol in the area.
The incident is not expected to delay the schedule of GFA International Inc. delivering the initial groundwater and soil test results in January 2018, the city said.
DUNBAR TOXIC SLUDGE SITE TIMELINE
August 2 – Residents voice concerns at public forum
August 23 – Crews replace well at Dunbar sludge site
November 16 – NAACP calls lack of action ‘environmental racism’