Dunbar residents react to new timeline for sludge site plan

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Answers to the looming questions associated with the Dunbar sludge site are one step closer to being answered.

The Department of Environmental Protection said the City of Fort Myers must have a plan for the sludge site by April 11. They must then do additional testing or begin sludge removal by May 11.

If the requirements aren’t met by the deadline, the city could face a penalty or fine.

Dunbar resident Rickey Rogers praised the state’s efforts of the newly implemented time constraints but is still worried about the effects of coming in contact with the sludge for years.

“It’s good for the people who live here now, but what about the people who passed away behind this stuff here?” Rogers said. “We need to be working towards finding out what we can do about that problem.”

The arsenic in the groundwater on and off site is three times higher than the government standard for drinking water. It’s unclear if the arsenic is coming from the sludge, but residents still using well water should let the city know to get it tested.

Dunbar resident Curt Sheard said he’s been drinking this water for most of his life.

“For 45 years or so, arsenic has been in this water, and we as children drank that water because that sludge has been there since I was a child.”

Rogers said he played in the sludge as a child.

“We had gardens. We ate out in the gardens,” Rodgers said. “(We) ate the fish, ate the birds; we got a problem.”

Mayor Randy Henderson said he doesn’t know “if the timeline is realistic, feasible, or will need to be adjusted.”

The city had a crew on site Tuesday working on cleanup options and cost to present to the DEP and city council for approval.

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