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State worries wells might pollute water

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

Deep wells sunk decades ago on what is now a federal Superfund site pose a significant threat to Gainesville's drinking water source, state officials say.

State Department of Transportation attorney Terry Zinn insists that the area _ about 300 square feet _ must be dug up and the wells located, plugged and capped.

But the company that spent nearly $10-million cleaning up the site says the wells aren't there. Cabot Corp. looked in 1992 and couldn't find the wells, although it does not disagree they were there decades ago.

The wells haven't been used since at least the 1960s, but they could serve as a direct conduit for pollution to the Floridan Aquifer, this area's drinking water source, says John Regan, senior environmental engineer at Gainesville Regional Utilities.

Contaminants such as benzene, phenol and toluene, already found under the site, could seep into the wells through rusted steel casings and travel directly down to the aquifer.