Contaminated sludge from 1960s slowly removed from Dunbar neighborhood

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
The area bounded in red shows the site in Dunbar where sludge from a water treatment plant was disposed of.

Last year, residents discovered a sludge site contained the hazardous chemical arsenic. It originated from a water treatment plant and got dumped into a local site in the 1960s for almost a decade. Now, the City of Fort Myers has begun to remove this residential health hazard.

However, the highly-anticipated removal of contaminated sludge from an area in Dunbar fell flat Thursday. Work started on the site early this morning but then stopped with very little activity the rest of the day. The city said work would continue at the site until 5 p.m.

“They just let it linger and linger and linger,” Annie Freeman said. “But I’m glad they [are] finally getting it out.”

Residents like Freeman, who live near this sludge site, are saying good riddance to the public nuisance.

“Well, I’m glad they’re moving it,” Freeman said. “I really am.”

The city said crews finally started removing an estimated 30,000 tons of tainted sludge, today.

Councilman Johnny Streets, who represents this community, said it’s about time.

“This has been a long time coming,” Streets said. “It’s been some heartaches and some headaches, and it’s cost us a lot of money.”

Excitement built this morning when a dump truck came and went. But, that excitement came to a halt when the activity slowed to a stop.

Where [are] they gonna put it?” Freeman said.

The city said the sludge is no longer being transported to Citrus County; instead, it will go straight to a facility in Alabama. The trucks being loaded with the sludge are supposed to be driven from South Street to I-75 then all the way up to the out-of-state facility.

WINK News has not received a response from the city regarding the projects scheduled timeline for completion.

Trust WINK News to update you as more information becomes available. 

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