BROOKSVILLE — For several years now, the county has been measuring the depth and width of the contamination problem at the old public works compound on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
A vote by the County Commission this week brought that project closer to the next phase: finally cleaning up the arsenic, barium, hydrocarbons and other toxic materials found to have soaked into the soil and seeped into the water at the site in south Brooksville.
Commissioners approved an $85,790 increase in the contract for consultant Creative Environmental Solutions Inc. to supervise the removal and disposal of 914 tons of contaminated soil. The work is a first step to begin moving the surface soils at the site.
A more comprehensive and formal cleanup plan will come later, after the state Department of Environmental Protection signs off on one. Now state officials are analyzing the last set of soil and water tests sent from the county to determine if the testing phase is now complete.
During Tuesday's meeting, community activist Paul Boston told commissioners that the county's consultant hasn't done enough testing and that he is especially concerned about off-site contamination in the adjacent Mitchell Heights neighborhood.
Gregg Sutton, assistant county engineer, countered that the county has done abundant testing and said he had reams of test results in his office to demonstrate that. He has said that he hopes the county is at the end of the testing phase.
The commission's approval of the additional contract amount will bring the total paid to the consulting firm to $1.8-million. The original, unbid contract negotiated with Creative Environmental Solutions was just $77,050 in 2005. There have now been 11 additions to the contract as the testing has continued.
The consultant will be in charge of overseeing all the tasks related to the initial dirt removal, including submitting plans to the DEP, coordinating with off-site property owners, surveying and marking the areas to be excavated, and preparation and review of the bids to do the initial work.
The excavation itself will be performed by a qualified contractor. Creative Environmental Solutions will supervise the excavation and the disposal of the contaminated soil at the Omni Landfill in St. Cloud.
County Administrator David Hamilton has heard repeatedly from residents of south Brooksville that the county has dragged its feet for years in solving the contamination problem in their neighborhood. He has told them that he is eager to move the project forward and begin the cleanup.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.