Water-Related News

Sen. Nelson to EPA: Help Fort Myers residents get the sludge out

FORT MYERS – A contaminated city dump site in the middle of a Fort Myers residential neighborhood may gain the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency if a request from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson succeeds.

“After nearly a decade, there is still toxic sludge in a residential neighborhood, and families have no idea when, if ever, it will be cleaned up,” Nelson, D-Orlando, wrote EPA chief Scott Pruitt in a letter dated Aug. 11, calling on the agency to investigate the situation and make sure the site is remediated.

Purchased in 1962 for water treatment waste disposal, the site at South Street and Henderson Avenue in Fort Myers sat unmitigated and exposed to unsuspecting families as homes grew up around it, until The News-Press reported it in June.

The city will soon conduct a full DEP-approved site assessment to determine the extent of the contamination and risk to residents, spurred by state Rep. and agriculture commission candidate Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers, with an inquiry into the state Departmental of Environmental Protection’s handling of the matter.

The city’s commitment to actually removing the sludge has community activists concerned, however. Nelson's involvement came a week after organizer Anthony Thomas, Jr. held a conference call with the senator's chief of staff.