Tag Archives: poisoned places

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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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.

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.

 

Beazer East & EPA: Keeping Gainesville Toxic with a Little Help from AMEC

19 Jun

The United States has recovered more than 19 million from AMEC in damages and penalties to settle litigation regarding fraud, false claims and kickbacks on Federal contracts in Sacramento, San Francisco, St. Louis and New Jersey.

At the World Trade Center, AMEC destroyed very important evidence during the clean-up.  This and the tampering witnessed by many residents in our neighborhood render AMEC’s soils test results false and unacceptable and Un-American.  Why are we entrusting the health and the lives of Gainesville’s children to AMEC?

The “Raw Deal” as acknowledged by this Commission earlier this year really gives us a toxic waste dump.  Dumping additional toxic residential soil on top of the already contaminated superfund site allows creosote, and other Koppers chemicals to continue to contaminate our drinking water, the Floridan Aquifer.

Removing one foot of polluted soil and entombing residents in toxic homes does nothing to protect families.  Officials already know that in some homes two to four feet and even twenty to forty feet of toxic soil have already been replaced with clean soil, only to find out later that the replacement soil is just as contaminated as the original soil.

According to Beazer East employee Mitch Brourman, this clean-up is “the best clean-up ever in the nation”.  No, EPA and Beazer East, this is NOT “the best clean-up ever” and it is NOT protective of Gainesville residents and our city.  This is nothing more than a criminal cover-up that is Keeping Gainesville Toxic.  We need and want out of our toxic homes!

Residents want to thank Todd Chase: he is the only City Commissioner that fully understood the implications of accepting this cover-up/raw deal.  We are grateful to him for voting against it.  This Raw Deal will forever stamp Gainesville with the stigma of Toxic City.

Ron Hodill

 

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!