Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cleanup Gaining Ground Council Nod Possible for 4 Neighborhoods

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cleanup Gaining Ground Council Nod Possible for 4 Neighborhoods

Article excerpt

The City Council could agree tonight to plan environmental cleanups in four Northwest Jacksonville neighborhoods polluted by lead-laden ash.

It would be the most concrete step yet to remedy a problem created between the 1940s and 1960s, when city sanitation workers burned trash in incinerators and spread the ashes on property that was later redeveloped for housing, parks, day-care centers and an elementary school.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said soil in those areas contains excessive amounts of lead, dioxins, PCBs and other hazardous chemicals.

Lawyers from the EPA and the city developed draft agreements for the city to hire consultants who would measure the pollution in each area and plan whatever cleanup is necessary. Plans for each site would be due in 17 months.

Council leaders are backing a request by the Mayor's Office to approve the agreements on an emergency basis, sidestepping committee hearings.

"I think it's important to address this in a timely manner," Council President Ginger Soud said during a committee chairmen's meeting yesterday. "We're ready to do whatever can humanly be done."

Last month, seven council members sat with Mayor John Delaney at a heated neighborhood meeting where neighbors of the polluted sites said they wanted quick action.

"We'd like to show our good faith effort to the community" by responding rapidly, said Sam Mousa, Delaney's deputy chief administrative officer. He said the city ultimately is responsible for the pollution and has no choice but to clean the contaminated areas.

"There's no question about the origin [of the ash] and the activity," he told council members. "If we don't do it, the EPA will do it for us."

The agreements would apply to two former incinerator sites, located near Forest Park at McCoy's Creek and the Emmett Reed Community Center near Durkeeville. …

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