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Dunbar Toxic Sludge Testing Continues, Cleanup to Begin Soon

2:36 PM, Sep 17, 2018


Chloe Nordquist

Plans to clean up Dunbar’s toxic sludge continues. The sludge will be taken from Fort Myers and shipped off to Alabama to be recycled.

Dunbar Toxic Sludge Testing Continues, Cleanup to Begin Soon

After the site has been excavated, an estimated 30,000 tons of arsenic-laced sludge will be loaded up on trucks provided by PPM Consultants, which is the company hired to make sure all this sludge gets removed.

Project planners estimate they could be filling up 20 dump trucks a day.

Once all the sludge is loaded up, it will be transported to LafargeHolcim’s facility in Crystal River, Florida, for pre-treatment. Here, it will be mixed with limestone. After the limestone is mixed in, it will then be shipped off to LafargeHolcim’s facility in Theodore, Alabama, where it will be turned into cement.

This makes it possible for the sludge to be put through the regular cement manufacturing process.

In the 1960s, the City of Fort Myers allegedly dumped 25,000 cubic yards of sludge in Dunbar pits that are deeper than the water table.

The sludge has polluted drinking water with Arsenic, which has been attributed to causing cancer. A 2007 city project for affordable homes discovered the high levels of the harmful toxin.

People who lived by the arsenic-laced sludge were mostly unaware of the danger. Children have played near the pits, absorbing some of the toxic fumes permeating from the waste. Overtime, residents became more adware of the sludge pits; however, most were not aware that it has tainted water with arsenic.

Politicians have discussed plans to clean up the environmental health embarrassment in the last two decades, with a majority leading nowhere. A 2017 News-Press article brought renewed attention to Dunbar's toxic sludge, leading to recent developments that may lead to the environmental problem becoming fixed.

The LafargeHolcim's environmental team is working with the Citrus County Engineering Department and the Florida Department of Environmental Management authorities to make sure the material used in the cement process is in full compliance with regulations.

A sample of the Dunbar toxic sludge was already tested by the company back in April. It said it was all good to recycle.

The whole process will start Oct. 1 and could take three months to clean and transport.

But first, some more testing has to be done. These tests will be for something called Alpha. The set checks to see how much radioactivity is in the drinking water.

GFA International will be out at the site collecting samples Monday and Tuesday.

Read the full proposal from PPM Consultants to the City of Fort Myers here .


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