Tag Archives: Homes

The Stigma Is Here To Stay…And It Won’t Whitewash Away

28 Oct

Research studies confirm that superfund neighborhoods retain their stigma even decades after EPA says they are clean and safe.

Stephen Foster Neighborhood is subject to an ongoing cycle of exodus and repopulation. When a generation of residents experiences the health effects of toxic exposure and learns about the superfund contamination that banks and realtors failed to disclose to them, population and property values plummet as homeowners abandon toxic homes to protect their families. The neighborhood repopulates as banks and realtors foreclose and sell the dangerous homes again without properly disclosing the Koppers Superfund Site and offsite contamination. More than 70% of Stephen Foster homes have been abandoned at least once.

When affected homeowners turn to the government for help, their elected officials’ response is to tell them they should sue. Residents who cannot afford to leave their hazardous homes are angered by the government’s failure to protect their families. Their anger, sense of hopelessness, and fear for their families’ future are well-founded. A partial list of resident-reported maladies related to toxic exposure including some diseases the Veteran Administration relates to Dioxin/Agent Orange includes:

Asthma Onset                                                        Neurological Impairment
Chloracne                                                               High Suicide Rate
Chronic B-cell Leukemias                                   Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Chronic headaches and nose bleeds                 Parkinson’s Disease
Chronic rashes and phantom itches                 Peripheral Neuropathy
Compromised Immune System                         Prostate Cancer
Diabetes Mellitus Type 2                                     Respiratory Cancers
Hodgkin’s Disease                                                 Soft Tissue Sarcomas
Ischemic Heart Disease                                       Spina Bifida, other Birth Defects
Liver Dysfunction                                                 Thyroid Cancer
Lupus                                                                       Unexplained Seizures
Multiple Myeloma                                                 Multiple Sclerosis

 Recent home sales in Stephen Foster reflecting the ongoing Superfund Stigma:

430 NW 31st Lane: Home purchased for $137,000 cash without Koppers disclosure was sold to investor for $6,600 after homeowner’s death from lung cancer. Homeowner never smoked and told family and neighbors that she blamed the house’s indoor contamination from Koppers for her illness and that she damned the day she moved to Gainesville and all the lying government agencies and elected do-nothing officials. When the investor was questioned by neighbors as to why he bought a contaminated home he said he didn’t care about the contamination because he wasn’t going to live there and he was going to make lots of money whether he rented or sold the property. Deceased homeowner had indoor testing of this house for Koppers chemicals and test results indicate that the house is highly contaminated.

500 NW 31st Lane: Home recently sold for $12,000 after homeowner’s death.

3119 NW 4th St: Home sold for $100. Tenants left for their health and safety after entire family was afflicted with illnesses that included chloracne, chronic nose bleeds and headaches, asthma onset, recurrent boils and abscesses, phantom itch and musculoskeletal pain. Family had no disclosure of the Koppers Superfund contamination problem in the neighborhood. Independent testing revealed severe contamination inside of house.

3139 NW 4th St: Home was purchased for $78,000 with no Koppers disclosure and recently sold for $42,000. Homeowner left for the health and safety of her young children.

3203 NW 4th St: Home was purchased for $106,000 with no Koppers disclosure. Bank recently resold property for $36,900 with no Koppers disclosure. Homeowner left to protect children’s health. Indoor and outdoor test results indicate that this property is highly contaminated.

3507 NW 4th St: Homeowner purchased this property for $126,000 with no Koppers disclosure. After foreclosing, bank sold to newowner for $48,900 without Koppers disclosure. Original foreclosed owner had the house independently tested and the toxic chemical contamination filed in court records. Afflicted by cancer, she blamed the indoor contamination and the ongoing toxic stormwater runoff that trespasses the property from the Koppers Superfund Site for her illness. Test results of this house indicate high levels of Koppers contamination indoors and outdoors.

514 NW 33rd Ave: Homeowner purchased property with no Koppers disclosure with a $133,000 loan. Original foreclosed owner had the house independently tested and the toxic chemical contamination filed in court records. After receiving the test results, homeowner disclosed the contamination to her tenants. Tenants decided to stay anyway. Two years later, several members of tenant family became victims of thyroid cancer. After the tenants left for their health and safety, the owner did not rent the property again and Bank recently resold property for $52,000 with no Koppers disclosure. New owners are no longer living on property after they learned their home and neighborhood is contaminated by Koppers Superfund Site. The home is highly contaminated indoors and outdoors.

3415 NW 5th St: Home was purchased for $187,000 with no Koppers disclosure. Bank recently resold the toxic property for $100 to investors. Family left for their children’s health and safety; the new investors are already reselling the contaminated property.

501 NW 28th Ave: Home was purchased for $138,900 with no Koppers disclosure. Bank recently resold the contaminated home for $34,000 after original owners abandoned the property due to many miscarriages and health issues associated with the contamination from the Koppers Superfund Site that the family was facing. Original owners had property independently tested for Koppers contamination and the results indicate that the house is severely contaminated inside.

431 NW 32nd Ave: Home was purchased for $174,000 with no Koppers disclosure. Bank resold property for $47,200 with no Koppers disclosure.

533 NW 29th Ave: Home was purchased for $108,000 with no Koppers disclosure. Bank resold property for $35,000 with no Koppers disclosure. Original owners abandoned property due to health and safety concerns and Koppers contamination of their home. New homeowner planning to move for health and safety.

519 NW 29th Ave: Home was purchased with no Koppers disclosure. Bank resold property recently for $35,000 with no Koppers disclosure. Original owners abandoned property for their health and safety because of the Koppers contamination of their home. Present tenant at this property had no Koppers disclosure and will be moving for their health and safety.

501 NW 29th Ave: Home has been empty for two years. The longtime tenants left for their health and safety after the entire family- three generations- was afflicted with multiple illnesses including chloracne, chronic nose bleeds and headaches, asthma onset, recurrent extremely painful boils and abscesses, and multiple cancers. Recently the youngest member of the family, a 15 year-old boy, was told he has leukemia. Family had no disclosure of the Koppers Superfund contamination problem in the neighborhood.

3403 NW 3rd Ave: Home was purchased for $91,000 with no Koppers disclosure. After the family left for their health and safety, the bank foreclosed and resold property to an investor for $41,500.

529 NW 30th Ave: Home was purchased for $85,000. The owner left for health and safety, the bank foreclosed, and the property sits empty.

537 NW 30th Ave: Home was purchased for $85,000. The owner left for health and safety, the bank foreclosed and this property also sits empty.

425 NW 37th Ave: Home’s original loan was $137,000. Property owner received no Koppers disclosure. Foreclosed owner had the house independently tested and the toxic chemical contamination filed in court records. After receiving test results, the homeowner disclosed the contamination to her tenants. Tenants decided to move for their health and safety and owner did not rent this property again. Bank foreclosed and listed property for $68,000. The property never sold and still sits empty two years later. Filed indoor and outdoor test results reveal that this property is highly toxic. The property owner also received registered test results from the State of Florida stating that this property is contaminated.

Wells Fargo & Govt Agencies Don’t Care About You- It’s All About The Money!

18 Oct

WF+GOV logos

The Gainesville City Commission’s recent recommendation to homebuyers who have unwittingly purchased a Koppers contaminated home without disclosure is to take legal action and file suit as soon as possible to protect your family.

Homebuyers have up to three years after they discover the contamination and/or nondisclosure to file against the culpable bank and realtor that sold them the toxic property and withheld legally required disclosure of the Koppers Superfund Site.

Wells Fargo isn’t the only entity complicit in reselling chemical laden toxic homes without legal disclosure. Government-funded agencies and politicians are willful participants in perpetuating this dangerous fraud. State and independent test results confirming that many of these homes are unsafe are available on the public record.

HUD Helps Banks Unload Koppers Toxic Homes

23 Aug

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is selling Dioxin-Arsenic-PAH contaminated houses in Gainesville Superfund neighborhoods- and failing to disclose the dangerous contamination to unsuspecting low income families buying these toxic homes.
As established residents abandon the homes that have made their families sick, banks foreclose on the Koppers health hazard homes. Homeowners contact their lenders who have knowingly sold them non-disclosed contaminated homes, seeking cooperation with exit strategies for their families’ safety. The banks immediately respond with foreclosure.
Since federal regulations prohibit banks from dealing in contaminated properties, they need a back door to discard these Superfund homes. These banks, including Wells Fargo, BOA and JP Morgan, having already profited from financing and foreclosing on the toxic housing, wash their hands of this PR nightmare by “transferring” the deadly domiciles to HUD for disposal. In response to residents’ questions about the sale of hazardous homes, HUD states that they routinely sell contaminated houses with impunity because they are not required to disclose. Taxpayer-funded HUD oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Selling toxic homes to low income families contradicts HUD’s published directives to protect consumers and improve their quality of life.
Unprincipled local realtors knowingly sell Gainesville Superfund homes on HUD’s behalf. The City of Gainesville and Alachua County Commissions have warned realtors including Bosshardt, Watson Realty and MM Parrish/Coldwell Banker against selling Koppers contaminated properties without providing the legally (and morally) required disclosure to potential homebuyers and renters. But upset new homeowners and renters are still reporting that Koppers contamination was not disclosed to them. Several of these families are already moving out of the area.
Many Gainesville Koppers contaminated homes sold by HUD were previously independently tested. These test results were submitted as evidence in foreclosure court records, and are public documents. Test results for some contaminated homes, including the addresses below, can be found on the Clerk of Court Public Record. Some of these contaminated foreclosed homes have already been sold without disclosure.
514 NW 31st Lane
3507 NW 4th Street
501 NW 28th Avenue
514 NW 33rd Avenue
425 NW 37th Avenue
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Environmental Injustice: The Unfolding Tale of Two Florida Superfund Sites

13 Apr

ej comparison

Will Residents Lose Their Rights With Neighborhood Topsoil Removal Plan?

16 Feb

On February 6, 2014 Maria Parsons told the City Commission about Stephen Foster Neighborhood residents’ concerns that by agreeing to participate in Beazer East, Inc/EPA’s topsoil replacement plan- at any time before, during, and/or after the soil replacement process- they are signing away their rights to take any possible future legal action that may be needed involving the polluter or any other responsible party for ongoing contamination and toxic exposure from Koppers chemicals.

Mrs. Parsons asked the Commission to confirm or deny these concerns in writing, and to provide a copy of all agreement forms, contracts, releases and/or waivers that residents must sign in order to participate in the soil replacement plan.  The Commission directed Mr. Murry to obtain and forward the requested information and documents to her.  Mrs. Parsons has not heard from Mr. Murry yet. Farinda O’Steen asked the city for this information several months ago and is still waiting for their response, as are other concerned residents.

Residents also need to know whether deed restrictions will be placed on their properties and exactly what that entails.

Homeowners in and near the contantly-changing topsoil replacement zone would be wise to have any documents they receive pertaining to Beazer East Inc/EPA’s plan reviewed by an attorney before signing them.

National Institute of Health (NIH): Dioxin exposure causes transgenerational health effects

27 Sep

In a WSU press release, Skinner said of his latest findings, “It is not just the individuals exposed, but potentially the great-grandchildren that may experience increased adult-onset disease susceptibility.”

By Brant Hamel

A new study, funded in part by NIEHS, found that dioxin affects not only the health of an exposed rat, but also unexposed descendants through a mechanism of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance.

The study was conducted in the laboratory of Michael Skinner, Ph.D., a professor in the Center for Reproductive Biology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Washington State University (WSU) who designed the study. Co-authors included assistant research professor Mohan Manikkam, Ph.D., research technician Rebecca Tracey, and postdoctoral researcher Carlos Guerrero-Bosagna, Ph.D.

“Although not designed for risk assessment, these results have implications for the human populations that are exposed to dioxin and are experiencing declines in fertility and increases in adult onset disease, with a potential to transmit them to later generations,” the authors concluded.

Dangers of dioxin last for decades after initial exposure

Dioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo[p]dioxin (TCDD), is a chemical compound that constitutes part of the Agent Orange herbicide used as a defoliant in the Vietnam War. According to research cited in the study, exposure is estimated to have caused 400,000 deaths and 500,000 birth defects. Dioxin has also been released from industrial accidents, leading to human exposures. Due to its extremely long half-life of up to 10 years in humans, dioxin may still affect pregnancies occurring even 20 years after exposure.

In the Skinner group’s experiments, exposure to dioxin caused changes in the DNA methylation patterns of sperm that were transmitted across generations, in an imprinted-like manner, to affect the health of multiple generations of descendents. The grandchildren of exposed rats showed dioxin-induced effects ranging from polycystic ovarian disease to kidney disease. The work raises the serious concern that even if toxic chemicals, such as dioxin, were completely removed from the environment, they could continue to cause disease for multiple generations.

Health effects of dioxin include early onset of puberty in females

Skinner’s group used low in vivo doses of dioxin, so that toxic effects were not expected. Female rats were exposed while pregnant, and both their direct progeny and descendants two generations removed were examined.

Although the most prominent phenotypes were kidney disease in males and polycystic ovarian disease in females, a number of other effects including abscesses, colon impaction, lung abnormalities, and missing testes were also observed in animals from the dioxin-treated lineage. Additionally, females from the dioxin-exposed lineage experienced the early onset of puberty. Conversely, males showed delayed puberty, suggesting sex-specific effects of exposure. Early puberty in humans has increased over recent decades and is believed to have an environmental link.

Dioxin alters methylation patterns in germ line DNA across generations

The researchers were able to identify 50 specific regions of DNA that were differentially methylated in the dioxin-treated animals. These regions were permanently reprogrammed and protected from DNA methylation, in a manner that allowed them to be passed down across generations. In the future, these regions may serve as biomarkers that would allow early detection of exposure and risk for disease.

Other chemical compounds, including bisphenol A, phthalates, the insecticide DEET, and the jet fuel JP8 have all been shown to promote disease across generations, through a similar mechanism of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance (see story). This pathway of disease propagation exists not only in rats, but also in humans, mice, worms, flies, and even plants. Thus, future research will be needed to see if other environmental compounds may also lead to health effects across generations.

In addition to NIEHS, NIH and the U.S. Department of Defense provided support for the study.

Citation: Manikkam M, Tracey R, Guerrero-Bosagna C, Skinner MK. 2012. Dioxin (TCDD) induces epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease and sperm epimutations. PLoS One 7(9):e46249.

(Brant Hamel, Ph.D., is an Intramural Research Training Award fellow in the NIEHS Laboratory of Signal Transduction.)

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2012/11/science-dioxin/

Sandra Watts Kennedy on AMEC’s Canadian Scandal

14 Jun

City of Gainesville Commission Meeting

June 6, 2013

AMEC engineers and scientists hired to do environmental assessment for the Raven Coal Corporation in Port Alberni Canada falsified data about the Alberni Airshed, not once but twice.

When AMEC published their final assessment of air pollutant concentrations in the Alberni Airshed, they claimed that DIOXIN levels in the airshed were well below the safe level standard for air quality set by the Canadian Government and the World Health Organization.  But AMEC was not aware that the Canadian Government monitors the Alberni Airshed for air pollutant concentrations.

The Canadian Government’s reports confirmed major DIOXIN air pollution in Port Alberni, contrary to AMEC’s air quality report. Investigation into AMEC’s actions in Port Alberni proved that AMEC never collected any air quality data in the Alberni Airshed- their report was composed of false test results invented to meet the needs of their client.

AMEC’s fraudulent report included a map illustrating the locations of monitoring towers they claimed to have used for several years to collect their Alberni Airshed data.  Upon investigation it was established that these monitoring stations never existed.

It is said that one can tell a lot about a person’s character by the company they keep.  AMEC is criminally fraudulent.  Why does Beazer East keep using them in Gainesville?  And why has Beazer East repeatedly lied to residents about rehiring AMEC under another name?  Why is EPA allowing use of AMEC-derived data when the lives of Gainesville’s children are at risk?

This farce is costing lives in Gainesville!  We reject AMEC’s sham test results and all aspects of the Beazer East/EPA coverup!  Our families want out of our dioxin-contaminated homes while we’re still alive!

Stephen Foster Resident Martha Miller On AMEC’s Fraudulent History

14 Jun

City of Gainesville Commission Meeting

June 6, 2013

 

AMEC (Beazer East’s environmental consultant for Gainesville’s Koppers Superfund Site) is a huge British-owned corporation like BP that is notoriously corrupt and has faced indictments from countries all over the world.  For example: 

1.   In 2008 Great Britain’s Serious Fraud Office fined AMEC five million pounds for falsifying records and other related ethics violations.  

2.   In South Africa, AMEC was named in a bribery/kickback scandal involving contracts on the Lesotho Dam Project.

3.   AMEC carried out the Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed Chalillo Dam in Belize, and has been accused of burying the scientific analysis of the dam’s impact on wildlife that concluded the project would cause significant and irreversible loss of biological diversity. 

Geologists characterize AMEC’s Environmental Impact Assessment as “gravely flawed and so filled with errors so as to render it useless as a document for engineers to use in the design and the construction of the proposed dam.”  They go on to state “The mistakes made by AMEC in the geological mapping of the Chalillo site would get a failing mark in an introductory geology class”.  

4.   Likewise, University of Florida scientists found AMEC’s assumptions and models regarding health risks associated with Koppers Superfund Site to be so flawed that they recommended to Florida DEP that AMEC’s data should not be used at all.  

Given AMEC’s worldwide reputation for unethical conduct and unreliable work, continuing to use their falsified data to drive our remedial action is a major mistake that will forever impact the reputation of our city.  More importantly, Gainesville families will continue to sicken and die in toxic homes.  We want out of this toxic city.  We don’t want to die in beautiful but toxic homes- We reject this RAW DEAL!

Another Family Rejects Beazer East/EPA’s Dangerous and Disingenuous “off-site soil remedial action”

4 Jun

Scott Miller, Remedial Project Manager
Superfund Remedial Branch
USEPA Region 4
Atlanta Federal Center
61 Forsyth Street
Atlanta, GA 30303

May 15, 2013

Mr. Miller et al,

We still do not grant access to our property, parcel 08409-000-000, to Beazer East, Inc./Koppers Inc., Tetra Tech, MACTEC (AMEC), Kestrel Ecological Services, or any other entities or individuals working on behalf of Beazer East, Inc., US EPA, FL DOH or FL DEP for soil sampling or any other activity related to the dangerous and disingenuous “off-site soil remedial action”.

Let us again plainly state that we are not participating in any phase of EPA’s and Beazer East’s “off-site soil remediation”.  As you well know, in our neighborhood it has been repeatedly illustrated that clean replacement soils quickly become as contaminated as the replaced soils, sometimes even more contaminated.  Further, your “remediation” fails to address the greater, more immediate danger posed to our families by the dioxin-saturated interiors of our homes. 

We refuse to participate in your purely cosmetic psychological exercise designed to deceive residents into the false belief that our homes and gardens will no longer be a serious toxic threat to our families.  This includes any and all phases of the soil scraping and cover-up that you are trying to force on innocent residents in lieu of providing the real protective action that our suffering community needs and deserves.

Please inform your contractors: NO employee of Tetra Tech, MACTEC (AMEC), Kestrel Ecological Services, Beazer East, Inc./Koppers Inc., US EPA, FL DOH or FL DEP may trespass our property at any time without both our explicit permission and our actual physical presence while you are there.  This prohibition also applies to any employees of Alachua County or the City of Gainesville intending to trespass our property for any activities connected to the “off-site soil remediation” in Stephen Foster Neighborhood.

Please contact attorney Stephen Murakami, as instructed in this email which you received on July 6, 2012:

Dear Mr. Miller:
I believe my client has made it abundantly clear by her unequivocal instructions and notice set forth in her message, that she does not wish to participate in any additional soil or dust sampling conducted by you or any of your agents or contractors.  In the future, should you require any information pertaining to the Kennedy’s property, kindly contact me in advance of any attempt to secure the Kennedy’s permission or authorization to enter upon their property for any purpose.
Sincerely,
Stephen David Murakami, Esq.
Attorney at Law

 

Please reply to our email so that we know that you understand its contents.

Sincerely,

Sandra Watts Kennedy and Kevin Kennedy

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