Multiple lessons of importance can be learned from the following article here hidden away in the Citrus County Chronicle.
One is that corporations or municipalities which have toxic waste material they want to dispose of, will not blink an eye when faced with trucking it hundreds of miles away. Lesson here is that a ban on fracking, biosolids disposal, or other toxic operations must also include a ban on toxic waste disposal, an integral part of the operation.
Another thing exposed here is the manner of operation of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Perhaps because the DEP customarily gives better protection to industry than the welfare if Florida’s citizens, they did not bother to consult or alert Citrus County authorities about the small matter of 30,000 tons of arsenic-tainted sludge headed for their county. County officials learned of this plan through the Citrus County Chronicle.
Does this not remind us of the monster Mosaic sinkhole, news of which came through a Tampa TV station and not our DEP?
The third and most important lesson here is power of home rule: that the Citrus County Commissioners had the gumption, foresight and integrity to represent their constituents and exert the power invested in them by their position as county leaders. They did their job even though it meant saying no to industrial corporations and our industry-loving DEP.
Cheers to the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
City says its sludge will bypass Citrus County
- Mike Wright
- Nov 28, 2018 Updated Nov 28, 2018
The city of Fort Myers says toxic sludge will not be sent to the LafargeHolcim quarry north of Crystal River.
Faced with a potential legal fight with Citrus County over a large pile of toxic sludge, the city of Fort Myers has said it will truck the material directly to Alabama without a stopover in Crystal River.
The city’s consultant announced the new transportation plan Wednesday and sent a flyer to residents in the Dunbar neighborhood saying the removal of sludge material would begin Thursday morning.
Prior plans, heading back to late August when the city approved the $3.2 million material removal proposal, said it would be trucked to the LafargeHolcim limestone quarry north of Crystal River, where it would be mixed with limestone and then sent by barge to Alabama.
The city’s notice to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection filed Wednesday omit Crystal River from the disposal plan.
Instead, it says the material will be loaded into trucks and transported directly to the LafargeHolcim concrete plant in Theodore, Alabama.
“The dump trucks will travel via major highways from Fort Myers to the LafargeHolcim cement plant in Theodore, Alabama,” the notice from PPM Consultants reads. “At this location, the material will be beneficially reused in the manufacturing process to make cement.”
Citrus County Administrator Randy Oliver was unaware of the latest development. A reporter sent him a copy of the flyer that was provided early Wednesday evening to the Chronicle by WINK-TV in Fort Myers.
The city posted the revised transportation plan on a DEP document webpage.
That the city’s consultant planned to truck 30,000 tons of arsenic-tainted sludge to the Crystal River facility came as a shock to Citrus County officials, who learned of it through a Chronicle story in early September.
Citrus officials contacted top DEP officials, including Secretary Noah Valenstein, who assured them the sludge disposal plan would have Citrus County’s approval before the material was trucked out of Fort Myers.
Citrus commissioners, though, were skeptical of that promise. Not only did they tell Fort Myers to keep the sludge away from the county, they authorized County Attorney Denise Dymond Lyn to file a lawsuit to stop the transport if that became necessary.
In late October, the project manager from Fort Myers, a representative of LafargeHolcim subsidiary GeoCycle, and a high-ranking DEP official all appeared before the county commission, hoping to convince commissioners that the material is safe for transport and processing at the facility north of Crystal River.
They left no further along than when they arrived.
“Our residents don’t want it. I’m going to stick to that,” Commissioner Scott Carnahan said at the time. “Find someplace else for it. You need to figure out something else because we don’t want it here.”
With the exception of Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith, the board was unified in rejecting the material regardless of review. Smith said the county should accept it if DEP approved.
The issue went silent over much of November, with Citrus officials unable to learn anything new. Oliver said shortly before Thanksgiving that a DEP official told him that the city was exploring alternatives to bringing the material to Crystal River. He had heard nothing since then.
Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or [email protected].