Tag Archives: Miami Herald

City’s Superfund Cost Recovery Another Failure

4 Feb

 Some preliminary work on infrastructure in the Stephen Foster neighborhood. This property is contaminated and did not have topsoil replacement. No precautions were taken during this digging.

Some preliminary work on infrastructure in the Stephen Foster neighborhood. This property is contaminated and did not have topsoil replacement. No precautions were taken during this digging.

The City of Gainesville recently settled with Beazer East for less than half of the city’s original cost-recovery claims regarding the Koppers Superfund site. Out of approximately $1.8M tax-payer money spent, Gainesville now stands to recoup a paltry $674,500. In return, the city agreed to release Beazer East from any and all cost recovery claims related to Koppers contamination. This latest example of the City of Gainesville’s nonexistent business acumen brings to mind the disastrous, money-losing biomass plant negotiations. Once again, the tax-payers are on the hook to pay the rest of the bill for a slick multi-national multi-billion dollar corporation. And, once again, public and environmental health is sacrificed by this City Commission who repeatedly put Beazer East’s bottom line over the welfare of its own citizens. During the meeting, Commissioner Wells remarked that the city had expected Beazer East to have done some of the improvements to the infrastructure in the remediation area as part of the cleanup. So in actuality, the city is using the settlement money to do what Beazer East was supposed to do before paying the cost-recovery claim. Sounds like a total loss for the city’s coffers.

The one shining beacon in last Thursday’s Commission meeting was when Mayor Braddy brought up the alternate consideration of using the settlement money to help relocate contaminated households. This suggestion was immediately discarded by a unanimous vote in favor of spending the settlement money to replace water lines and repave roads in areas of Stephen Foster Neighborhood where some properties had topsoil replacement. When will this idea of relocation be re-visited or developed? Not only does the Commission’s decision have no immediate benefit to the sick and dying residents in the area, it actually adds to their suffering by exposing more contaminated soil during the reconstruction process.

While replacing the infrastructure, city workers are being exposed to more contaminated soil that was not replaced. What kind of employee health plan does the city offer? And how does the city plan to keep toxic soil disturbed by this activity from recontaminating newly remediated properties? Beazer East has already said it won’t be coming back if more contamination surfaces, and now the city has negotiated away any legal recourse it may have had.

There is another less tangible and more sinister side to this “reinvestment” to infrastructure in the offsite remediation zone: it benefits non-resident property investors looking to make a killing when the redevelopment occurs. In fact, plans are already underway for onsite redevelopment at this very moment. No need to update roads and water works when the city (taxpayers) has already done it, and paid for it. Greedy sharks are circling while toxic trespass gets a beautification band-aid.

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Beazer East to Gainesville Residents: So Long Suckers

4 Sep

Unhappy homeowners in Superfund Neighborhoods across the US that received topsoil replacement report that they have had to spend thousands of dollars replacing the cheap materials hastily laid in their yards and repairing damage to their homes caused by corporate polluter contractors. EPA staff stopped returning homeowners phone calls and emails for assistance after topsoil replacement was finished.

“We’re not coming back.”
Last year, Beazer East executive Mitchell Brourman told Gainesville’s City Commission that BE will not remediate any remaining/recurring Koppers contamination after the current topsoil replacement is completed. According to Mr. Brourman they’re done even if soil replacement fails. Any problems, from recontamination to property damage caused by Beazer East contractors, will be left to homeowners to deal with at their own expense. Stephen Foster residents with replaced topsoil are already reporting that Beazer East contractors and EPA staff are not responding to them when contacted regarding problems caused by their “cleanup”.

 1DirtPileOnSiteClean soil for families’ lawns sits surrounded by toxic storm water on Koppers Superfund Site.

 

2TrailFromKoppersContaminated storm water runoff leaves visible trails from Koppers Superfund Site into Stephen Foster Neighborhood.

 

3WesternBorderTrail Looking into SFN from Koppers Superfund western border.

 

4AnotherSFNTrail Toxic runoff into another SFN street with lawns that have newly replaced topsoil.

 

5AnotherSFNTrail2 Another street where Koppers contaminated storm water washes down the avenue into newly cleaned yards.

 

6RemediatedYardFlooded Newly remediated yard flooded by toxic superfund water.

 

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

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.

Alachua County Commission Votes to Ask Beazer East to Relocate Residents Out of Toxic Homes- Story and Video Coming Soon!!

19 Sep