The latest ... and what's next

By Times Staff
Published April 9, 2006

Creative Environmental Solutions of Brooksville, the county's new consultant, turned in a report in February. Among the key findings:

- Arsenic contamination may have reached neighboring yards. Creative found the carcinogen above residential limits in the soil along the south and east fence lines. Although not an immediate health threat, Creative recommended testing the neighbors' property.

- Solvent contamination may extend farther than originally thought.

- Contamination may have put the state's primary source of drinking water at risk. A clay layer thought to shield the Floridan Aquifer does not provide as much protection as originally thought, although pollutants are not an immediate threat to the water supply. Benzene, a carcinogen, was found 23 feet below the surface of the site, approximately 17 feet from a porous limestone layer leading to the Floridan, which lies 105 feet below the site.

There's good news as well:

- Creative found no pesticide contamination, long a worry for the site's neighbors.

- Some cleanup efforts worked. The previous consultant installed wells to pump out contaminated groundwater from beneath an area contaminated by paints and solvents. Tests showed contamination levels declined enough to allow the wells to be turned off.

Here's what's next:

- Of 31 identified "areas of concern," three are clean; 18 need additional testing; nine need initial testing; one requires removal of contaminated soil.

- The state Department of Environmental Protection has until April 20 to review the report and offer guidance.

- At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday , the Hernando County Commission will hold a meeting at the site to brief the public on the cleanup.