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More wells yield toxins near Coronet factory

By RON MATUS
Published September 18, 2003

Ten more private wells near the Coronet Industries factory in Plant City are showing elevated levels of toxic pollutants, authorities said Wednesday.

But, in what may be a strange twist, they also said for the first time that it does not appear the water is posing a widespread health hazard.

The pollution numbers "are more reassuring than they are alarming" because the affected wells are concentrated in two small areas, said Hillsborough County Health Director Doug Holt.

Holt is leading a multiagency study into concerns that Coronet is responsible for higher rates of cancer and developmental disorders, as many residents believe.

Results show that, of 50 wells tested two weeks ago, seven have elevated levels of arsenic, a cancer-causing metal. One each showed elevated levels of boron, cadmium and lead. Even though the levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead were above the federal drinking water standards, the health risk remained "very low," Holt said.

Authorities will hand out bottled water today, and residents will be eligible for special filters.

Combined with results from 43 wells tested in August, the tally now shows eight wells with higher levels of arsenic, 10 with boron, one with cadmium and one with lead. Thirteen wells also have elevated levels of slightly radioactive particles, but not at levels that authorities deem unsafe. The problem appears to be isolated near Gentry and Cason Roads, east of the Coronet plant, and along Clemons Road to the south, Holt said.

[Last modified September 18, 2003, 02:03:00]


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