BROOKSVILLE — The long-anticipated cleanup of the contaminated site of Hernando County's former Department of Public Works compound will soon face a challenge by the NAACP.
Paul Douglas, president of the Hernando branch of the NAACP, announced to the County Commission on Tuesday that the organization is going to petition for an administrative hearing to challenge the remediation plan.
"We feel it's not going far enough,'' Douglas said, noting that the approved plan does not stretch a great enough distance into the Mitchell Heights neighborhood situated near the compound on Brooksville's south side.
If the Florida Department of Environmental Protection accepts the challenge, the hearing process could delay implementation of the cleanup for months.
Among other issues Douglas said the organization will push is the need to move the county's voting machines out of a building on the property. County officials have been looking for a new permanent storage facility for the machines. County Administrator David Hamilton said that finding a new location is a priority.
Later in the meeting, the commissioners agreed that some open space beside the Supervisor of Elections Annie Williams' office in Spring Hill should be made available for storage. She said still more space will have to be found.
The county has spent millions of dollars on testing the property for years. Petroleum, solvents and other chemicals leached into the ground and water on the site decades ago. The plan approved for the site by the DEP would allow the existing asphalt pavement, concrete pads and sidewalks to remain to prevent human exposure to the contamination.
In other areas that are not capped and where arsenic was found, soil removal and testing are proposed. Monitoring of wells that have not been affected by petroleum products is proposed, and, for the one well that has shown petroleum contamination, a special chemical oxidant product would be used to remedy the problem.
Other options are provided in each of the areas of contamination if they are needed, but the DEP letter states that additional approvals must be sought from the agency if the county goes another route.
Other residents of the neighborhood already have objected to the plan. They include Booker T. Byrd, Bertha Winslett, Richard Howell and Theodore Brown.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.