Tag Archives: The Independent

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.

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