Jacksonville Will Clean Incinerator Ash From Superfund Sites
JACKSONVILLE, Florida, March 11, 2008 (ENS) - The city of Jacksonville, Florida has agreed to clean up two Superfund sites located within the city limits at an estimated cost of $94 million, the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced today. The settlement also requires the city to reimburse all costs incurred by the EPA to date in cleaning up the sites.

From the 1890s through the early 1970s, the City of Jacksonville operated a number of municipal solid waste incinerators. Disposal of ash material generated by burning solid waste at these incinerators occurred on city and private property in Jacksonville's Northside and Southside neighborhoods. It is also possible that ash was taken elsewhere for disposal although details remain unknown.

The two Superfund sites covered under today's settlement are, known as the Jacksonville Ash Site and the Brown's Dump Site. They are contaminated with incinerator ash, which contains metals, arsenic, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and dioxin, among other substances.

The City of Jacksonville refers to these sites in its Better Jacksonville Plan, saying, "though tests to date have not shown any significant health threat, the city has a moral obligation to provide safe and clean environments for our residents, particularly our children. The price tag will be high, but these problems must be corrected."

A small portion of the Jacksonville Ash site (Photo courtesy Florida DEP)

The Jacksonville Ash site includes three separate locations of former waste processing and disposal facilities operated or used by the city. The site consists of two former city incinerators at Forest Street and at 5th and Cleveland Streets, and a former dump site that is now occupied by the Lonnie C. Miller, Sr. Park. All three locations are in the northwest portion of Jacksonville.

Brown's Dump site covers about 50 acres near 33rd and Pearce Streets. Between 1945 to 1955, burned waste was dumped at the site. After the dumping stopped, the Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School and homes were built there. The school is no longer in use but an electrical substation and adjacent single-family homes and apartment buildings are still located on the site.

Chemicals are in the soil, sediment and groundwater. The areas with higher levels of chemicals are fenced off to keep people out.

"Today's agreement ensures that these two Superfund Sites will be cleaned up and restored," said Ronald Tenpas, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This is an important step toward a cleaner and healthier environment for the people of Jacksonville."

U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida Robert O'Neill said, "This case represents a collaborative effort between the city of Jacksonville and the United States which has resulted in an ambitious project to clean up and restore properties contaminated with hazardous substances in the Jacksonville community."

In August 2006, the U.S. EPA selected cleanup plans for the two sites. The plans require soil excavation at residential properties, schools and parks, and the installation of a two foot layer of clean soil.

Excavated soil will be solidified and stabilized in accordance with federal regulations, as needed, prior to off-site disposal at an appropriate landfill.

Remediation will be conducted at streams and creeks, and groundwater will be monitored to ensure protection of public health and the environment.

"EPA is pleased that the city of Jacksonville has recognized its responsibility at these two sites," said Jimmy Palmer, the regional administrator for EPA Region 4. "This agreement will result in the cleanup of four neighborhoods in Jacksonville and serve to protect public health and the environment."

In total, there are eight identified ash sites in Jacksonville. Four sites are overseen by the U.S. EPA, while the other four sites are overseen by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

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