EPA: More tests planned near Koppers Supersund site Gainesville, Florida
The Environmental Protection Agency will require additional environmental tests in the area around the Cabot Koppers Superfund site, including further sampling of soil and indoor dust.
Scott Miller, the regional remediation manager for the EPA, said Wednesday that the federal agency would, to the “greatest extent” possible, implement the testing plan that a committee assembled by the Florida Department of Health released in July.
On Tuesday, county commissioners sent the EPA a letter pushing for the agency to require indoor dust testing at homes in the Stephen Foster neighborhood adjacent to the polluted former wood treatment plant property to measure levels of the carcinogen dioxin.
Miller said the EPA, which requested that the FDOH assemble a working group to prepare a testing plan, was attempting to secure permission from property owners to enter homes and conduct tests.
“There’s always the theoretical and the real world,” he said. “Sometimes it’s as simple as I can’t get access to a house.”
Miller said the tests would be funded by Beazer East, the company legally responsible for the cleanup of Koppers. Talks were ongoing with Beazer East to determine whether the EPA or the company would be in charge of conducting the tests, Miller said.
“One would look over the other’s shoulder,” he added.
The ongoing negotiation between the EPA and Beazer East was one reason the county’s Environmental Protection Advisory Committee (EPAC) asked the County Commission to push for further tests.
“The concern I expressed is EPA is in a room somewhere with Beazer discussing what they’re going to fund and how much they’re going to fund, and that’s a closed process,” said Bob Palmer, the chairman of EPAC and a member of the FDOH working group.
No timetable was given for when the tests of indoor dust would commence. But Miller said additional soil sampling at residential and commercial properties should start in December.
The end result of the dust testing remains uncertain. There are no state or federal standards for regulating dioxin levels in dust, according to the FDOH report. Meanwhile, the EPA has been working since 1991 on a reassessment of the health risks associated with exposure to the various sources of dioxin exposure. Steve Roberts, the director of the University of Florida Center for Environmental & Human Toxicology, said that has been a “very controversial subject.”
“How you calculate that for dioxin has been the subject of lots and lots of discussion,” said Roberts, who also served on the FDOH working group.
Dioxin refers to about 30 similar chemical compounds, including toxic substances that are released on combustion and in chemical processes such as the wood treatment process used for decades at the Koppers plant. The property has been listed as a polluted federal Superfund site for more than 25 years.
Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or firstname.lastname@example.org