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Substance in barrels 'no threat'
That's pretty much all officials would say about a substance found in a Hudson shop.
By JAMAL THALJI
Published June 6, 2007
Department of Environmental Protection Police members weigh and test toxic chemicals left in blue barrels before removing them from Accurate Automotive Repair. According to adjacent tenants in the industrial park, the barrels were left by the previous tenant who intended to open a chrome finishing shop.
[Times photo: Julia Kumari Drapkin]
[Times photo: Julia Kumari Drapkin]
Members of the Florida State Department of Environmental Protection Police weigh and test toxic chemicals before removing them from Accurate Automotive Repair in Hudson.
HUDSON -- They showed up first thing Tuesday morning and quickly got dressed for work:
Protective suits. Gloves. Filter masks. The works.
"It kind of worried me when I first saw them in the little white suits," said officer manager Denise Roqueta of Mr. G's Foods Inc. "I felt like E.T. dropped in."
No, it was officers from the state Department of Environmental Protection, there to examine the unknown substance found in more than a dozen blue barrels left at the auto shop next door.
They have to figure out what's in the abandoned barrels, who's responsible for it and what it means to those who work at the County Line Trade Center industrial park along the Pasco-Hernando county line.
State officials had few answers about what went on Tuesday, except for the most important question:
"The drums are no threat to the community," said DEP spokesman Chris Cate.
But if authorities know what's in the barrels, they haven't told the public.
The drums were left in the building by a previous tenant, according to current tenant Edward Lima. He said the DEP officers asked him not to comment. But he did tell the Times that in February he leased the space at 18901 Sakera Road for his business, Ed Lima's Accurate Automotive.
Unfortunately the drums came with the place. He's been trying to get them out of there ever since.
The DEP agents showed up at 9 a.m. and were gone by 1 p.m. They took samples for testing and will return to dispose of the unknown chemicals. In the meantime they allowed the shop to stay open Tuesday and told the tenants there they weren't in any danger.
It sounded like a fairly standard operation to Pasco emergency operations coordinator Jim "J.J." Johnston. The county gets involved if there's an immediate danger, Johnston said, but it's the state that's best prepared to investigate the mess, get it cleaned up -- and get whoever's responsible to pay up.
"The owner of the property is responsible. The property owner would have to sue the tenant to recover the costs," Johnston said.
So who was the previous tenant? The Pasco County Property Appraiser's Office couldn't find a business tax receipt for any business at that address before Accurate Automotive moved in.
Landlord Gary Blackwell did not return a call for comment on Tuesday.
The yellow tape was set up just a few feet from the entrance to Mr. G's Foods next door. But no one told them what was going on. A Times reporter relayed the message that everything's okay.