Thursday, April 26, 2018
News Roundup

Legal delay to cleanup of old public works site in Brooksville swept aside

BROOKSVILLE — After years of delays, cleanup of the contaminated old public works compound in south Brooksville may begin soon.

On Tuesday, an administrative law judge signed an order closing the last open legal challenge to Hernando County's remediation plan.

"We are hopeful that this will be the start of the final approval of the remedial action plan" by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, county engineer Brian Malmberg said in an email. "We are looking forward to getting started on the work outlined in the plan.''

The plan includes a laundry list of methods that the county will use to remove, treat or block the public from the contaminants in the soil and water at the site at 201 W Dr. M.L. King Jr. Blvd. Contaminants ranging from arsenic to petroleum products were absorbed into the site while the county ran public works and fleet operations there years ago.

After the contamination was found, the county took little action to clean it up. More than a decade later, the county ordered several years of soil and water sampling, which was needed to determine the width and depth of the plume of chemicals.

After the analysis, a county consultant drew up a cleanup plan, which includes removal of some additional soil, capping portions of the site with concrete, adding chemical agents to neutralize contaminants and other means of remediation.

DEP gave its tentative approval in 2010, but the county sought a delay until officials with the county and the consultant could meet with the predominantly African-American residents of south Brooksville and explain the details.

At that meeting, in September, residents argued that the plan didn't go far enough because the entire neighborhood had been fouled by the chemicals. Several adjacent property owners said their lots were contaminated, and they blamed the pollution for sickening their family members and friends.

They said the county had overlooked the problem for years because of racial bias and that a wider swath of the neighborhood needed to be included in the cleanup plan.

Residents also argued that there was a conspiracy and that corruption and secrecy had left the issues unresolved.

Using those arguments, the owners of two of the properties near the site — Almazine and Howard Delaine and Booker T. Byrd — challenged the plan formally with the DEP, and the cases were forwarded to the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings.

While hearings were set for next month to decide the cases, Assistant County Attorney Richard Appicello recently sought dismissal of the cases on the basis that none of the original arguments made by the residents addressed the content of the remediation plan.

The judge agreed, giving the residents one final chance to hire an attorney and present a legally relevant argument as to why the cleanup plan should be rejected.

Their deadline was Friday. No arguments were offered, and the judge closed the file.

According to DEP spokeswoman Ana Gibbs, the county can proceed once it gets notice of final agency approval.

Malmberg couldn't predict when work at the site may begin.

"The county will need to finalize the design documentation for the procedures outlined in the (remediation plan),'' he said.

"We are estimating a cost to complete the procedures as outlined in the (plan) to be approximately $450,000," Malmberg said. "This will be spent over the estimated four-year cycle of the project."

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

Comments
Suspect identified in string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City

Suspect identified in string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City

PLANT CITY — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has identified the suspect in a string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City.Deputies are searching for Majar L. Jones, 43, of Orlando.Jones may still be in a stolen 2002 green Ford F-150 with...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
The Daystarter: Lightning’s next opponent and playoffs’ economic impact; Rick Scott earns political victory; what goes on in that pink house?; it’s draft day for Bucs

The Daystarter: Lightning’s next opponent and playoffs’ economic impact; Rick Scott earns political victory; what goes on in that pink house?; it’s draft day for Bucs

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Another sunny day today with high temperatures in the low 80s, according to 10Weather WTSP. Friday brings the possibility of rain, and the weekend brings the heat: Sunday’s high is in...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Aside from former Florida State safety Derwin James, the most likely first-round pick from a state college is ex-Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan.He hopes, at least."That would (stink) if I didn't," Bryan said last month at Florida's pro da...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

TAMPA — As the Tampa Bay Lightning wait for its next playoff opponent to come to town, the city’s business community — large and small — say they’ve already won this NHL postseason.At WestShore Plaza this week, with blue and white banners surrounding...
Updated: 1 hour ago
SOCom leader wanted to toss Google exec from car. Because he was right.

SOCom leader wanted to toss Google exec from car. Because he was right.

TAMPA — Standing in front of an audience of several thousand scientists, data wonks, geospatial intelligence analysts and other big thinkers, Army Gen. Tony Thomas drew some laughs when he talked about the time he felt the urge to toss Google CEO Eri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The last cigar factory in Tampa keeps rolling

The last cigar factory in Tampa keeps rolling

YBOR CITY -- History lives here, inside the J.C. Newman Cigar Co.Machines manufactured in the 1930s are still used to pack and roll the cigars, and the sights and smells are throwbacks. Tobacco bits litter the weathered wooden floor, and a pungent od...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Is it still environmentally conscious if it’s based on a sham?

Romano: Is it still environmentally conscious if it’s based on a sham?

Let’s discuss biosolids waste. I promise, it won’t be gross or boring.No, this is more of a how-did-we-lose-money-again bedtime story.Our tale begins around 2006 when St. Pete officials began exploring a biosolids project. The city was eventually goi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Iron Nun still going strong at age 88

The Iron Nun still going strong at age 88

TAMPA —These smart phones and computers and internet are big annoyances to Sister Madonna Buder.Every time she turns around, there's a message or a request or a question coming into one of her devices from somewhere in the world."What's all the...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

TAMPA — A customer visited Wingstop on Sunday night to pick-up his order. What happened next was off-menu:Robert Williams said he suffered second-degree burns on his back and legs after a Wingstop employee threw hot oil on him during a scuffle.Willia...
Updated: 8 hours ago
FHP identifies driver in crash that killed

FHP identifies driver in crash that killed "smiling" teen

TRINITY — Friends said what they’ll remember the most about Lillia Morris is that she was always smiling.The 17-year-old Mitchell High School junior was killed Tuesday when a sport-utility vehicle ran a red light on State Road 54 and slammed into the...
Updated: 9 hours ago