EPA Cuts Hit Home

The Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, by some accounts the largest to any department, could directly impact two pending Superfund cleanups in Seminole County. According to a March 20th Los Angeles Times article, the budget cuts $330 million, or about 30 per cent, from the Superfund allocations nationwide.

It’s not clear which of Florida’s 53 toxic industrial waste sites on the EPA”s National Priority List would be affected, if at all, because that level of detail is not available, SemDem researchers have found.

The administration has said it would “prioritize the use of existing settlement funds to clean up hazardous waste sites and look for ways to remove some of the barriers that have delayed the program’s ability to return the sites to the community.”

Two sites are along 17/92 in Longwood.

An EPA website says, in part:

“The 9-acre General Dynamics Longwood site (also known as the Gould Property) includes the area where the General Dynamics Corporation manufactured printed circuit boards and other electronic equipment from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. The site property is not currently in use. After initial investigations, EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 2010 because of soil and groundwater contamination.

“EPA believes that contaminated groundwater from the site has merged with contaminated groundwater from the adjacent Sprague Electric Company site. Site contamination does not currently threaten local residents living and working near the site. EPA has identified potentially responsible parties (PRPs) that could potentially undertake or support site investigations and cleanup. EPA is currently negotiating with the PRPs to perform site investigations and evaluate cleanup alternatives. One PRP has placed filters on two private drinking water wells. All other residents and businesses use the local public water system for drinking water.

“The 12-acre [Gould] site [is where] Sprague Electric Company manufactured film capacitors from 1959 to 1992. During the manufacturing process, operators cleaned the capacitors with vapor degreasers containing trichloroethylene (TCE) and trichloroethane (TCA).

The 9-acre Gould property in Longwood sits vacant.

“EPA did not list the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) but considers it an NPL-caliber site and is addressing it through EPA’s Superfund Alternative Approach. This approach uses the same investigation and cleanup process and standards EPA uses for sites listed on the NPL.”

The property is adjacent to Highlands Elementary School.
Seminole county’s environment has benefited in the past from EPA funding.
One superfund site, called the Sanford Dry Cleaners in the one hundred block of South Palmetto Avenue, described in EPA literature as “one of the worst hazardous waste sites identified by the EPA” is now in the heart of the city’s redevelopment area.

The mess was long in the making. Downtown Dry Cleaners and Laundry was established on the property in the 1940s and operations continued under the name of Sanford Dry Cleaners until 2001.

For the record an EPA report says “Tetrachloroethene (PCE) and its biodegradation products, such as trichloroethene (TCE), were found in the soil and ground water at the site. PCE, TCE and cis-1,2 dichloroethene (DCE) were found in shallow and deep ground water samples from the surficial aquifer at concentrations above the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act Maximum Contaminant Levels.”

The construction work for the cleanup finished in June, 2015 and the site is still being monitored. Lake Monroe is only about half a mile away.

The cleaned-up Sanford site is in the heart of the city’s re-development area.

Multiply this impact by all the counties in the country and you can see the scope of the assault on the planet. As the group “Earthjustice”, legal experts who fight environmental cases, put in a recent article.

“No one voted for a dirtier, more hazardous environment in the last election. Yet that is exactly what Trump and his polluter cronies on the Hill are gunning for with their proposal to gut the EPA.”