1 Mar


March 1, 2012


Bea Horton, grandmother of five and one of countless victims of Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site contamination, distressed, suffering from cancer, and wearing a heart monitor, will become homeless on March 8, 2012.  On that day, Bank of America’s CEO Brian Moynihan will auction away her home located at 3507 NW 4th Street in Gainesville, Florida.  After the 11:00a.m. auction in the hallway lobby on the 1st floor of the Alachua County Family/Civil Justice Center at 201 East University Avenue in Gainesville, Ms. Horton will be yet another member of the growing ranks of Koppers/Beazer East Superfund Refugees.

Ms. Horton believes that Bank of America’s legally orchestrated maneuvers are designed to silence her because she speaks out on a regular basis against the routine non-disclosure of the Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site that places unsuspecting families in highly contaminated homes and neighborhoods.  She wants to prevent other innocent families from moving into her highly toxic home and neighborhood and thus unknowingly exposing their children to carcinogenic chemical toxins.  This is why Ms. Horton speaks out.  Like most homeowners in the sick neighborhoods surrounding Cabot-Koppers, she did not receive disclosure about the nearby Superfund Site when buying her home, although this disclosure is required by State law.  She would not have purchased her home if she had received disclosure- she would never knowingly expose her grandchildren to dangerously high levels of dioxin.

Ms. Horton’s bank and realtor knowingly placed her in a highly dioxin/agent orange contaminated home with no disclosure of the existence of the Superfund Site and its deadly contamination.  When homeowners like Ms. Horton discover the many illnesses and deaths in their neighborhoods or themselves become victims of the contamination, they often contact their banks to negotiate a way out of their toxic homes.  The major banks uniformly respond by swiftly filing foreclosure on these innocent families.

The banks then proceed to resell the foreclosed, toxic properties, as they will Ms. Horton’s, to a fresh crop of unsuspecting primarily low-income and minority families.  Despite the fact that they have known about the site all along and have additionally been put on notice by homeowners’ attorneys regarding the extent and degree of contamination, all of the major banks continue the predatory practices that perpetuate the cycle of misery, disease, and death that is plaguing Gainesville.

The stress of ongoing human and civil rights violations that the immediately affected Ms. Horton and other residents living near the Superfund Site are already subjected to is increasingly exacerbated by economic persecution from greedy banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, PJ Morgan Chase and Fannie Mae.

“Too many are sick and too many have died here.” Ms. Horton says, “I will continue to speak out against this environmental injustice. If I save just one innocent child from this massive and lethal contamination I will have done my job.  It is all about our future.  That is our children- we must save the children!”

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The Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site is located near the intersection of Northwest 23rd Avenue and North Main Street in the heart of Gainesville, Florida, and covers approximately 170 acres.

A wood treatment plant operated on the Koppers portion of the site from 1912 until 2010.  In the first part of the 20th century, creosote was used to treat utility poles and timber.  In the final decades of operation, creosote was replaced by chromated copper arsenate (CCA).

Nearly a century of wood treatment activity and illegal dumping are responsible for contaminated ground water and soil.  Burning of contaminated waste has resulted in additional contamination.

The Cabot-Koppers acreage was declared a Superfund Site by the US EPA in 1983 and added to the National Priorities List for clean-up in 1984.  In 1984 there were just a few dozen sites on the list:  Cabot-Koppers became the 37th.  Hundreds of sites across the nation have been cleaned up since then, but not Gainesville’s.

In 2003 test results indicated that the Floridan Aquifer, the source of drinking water for 90% of the State of Florida, is being contaminated by toxins from Cabot-Koppers.
The Alachua County Commission sent two letters to President Obama in 2011 asking for his help to expedite the permanent relocation of affected residents and the protection of the municipal water supply.

The multinational, multibillion corporation, Beazer East is responsible for the Koppers clean-up.  Beazer East and Koppers are the same entity.

The primary contaminants are dioxins, creosote compounds, benzene, naphthalene, and chromated copper arsenate.
Test results from 2010 and 2011 confirmed extremely high and alarming levels of dioxins in homes within a two mile radius from the Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site at an average of 400 to over 1000 times above US EPA’s own “safe” level standard.

Chloracne, rashes, respiratory problems such as asthma, allergies, shortness of breath, regular headache, frequent bloody noses, diabetes, miscarriages, still births and birth defects including cleft palate, extra limbs, and missing organs are common complaints in Gainesville’s superfund neighborhoods.  Cancers of the colon, lungs, kidneys, thyroid, skin, pancreas, liver, prostate, brain, and stomach, to name just a few, are common in these neighborhoods.

Gainesville residents have been protesting, testifying of their families’ illnesses and deaths, and demanding environmental justice and permanent relocation for over fifty years.

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Erwin Ellis

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