Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cleanup at Plant Site Slow Neighbors Fear Drinking Water

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cleanup at Plant Site Slow Neighbors Fear Drinking Water

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

BRUNSWICK -- Neighbors of the former Brunswick Wood Preserving plant say they are becoming increasingly frustrated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's lack of activity at the Superfund site north of Brunswick.

They especially are concerned about their drinking water because they don't know how fast contaminants in the groundwater are moving toward their wells.

EPA remedial project manager Brian Farrier said there is little cause for concern. Tests on groundwater have shown the plumes of contamination beneath the plant site are relatively stable and the off-site pollution level is low.

Farrier said work is going forward on the approval of a long-term solution to the contamination, building underground clay walls and caps to prevent future movement off the plant site at a cost of about $30 million.

But neighbors say the pace of the work is too slow and that the EPA really doesn't want to do much at the site.

"It seems like they try to wear us down so they can do the level of cleanup they want to do," said Jack Trask who lives nearby. His property is adjacent to a small creek that flows into Burnett Creek, a stream contaminated by a large spill before the plant closed in 1991 and its owners declared bankruptcy.

More than a decade after the EPA moved in and spent $14 million on an emergency cleanup, the agency still doesn't have an approved permanent solution, at least one that meets the approval of neighbors.

Officials for the Glynn Environmental Coalition, a grass-roots environmental watchdog group, have called the EPA plan silly and temporary because it leaves the contaminants in the ground rather than treating and removing them.

"They [EPA officials] want an industrial cleanup where it can be used for an industrial use," and that's not enough for neighbors who have invested in homes, Trask said.

The values of their homes have been hurt by having a Superfund site in the community, he said.

Frank Lea lives about a mile down Perry Lane Road from the plant site. Driving past, he has seen the flurries of activity, but he has seen little more lately than weeds growing on the grounds. …

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