Water-Related News

Fort Myers sludge site tests five times above EPA standard for arsenic

FORT MYERS – Arsenic on a city of Fort Myers sludge dump that's sat for half a century amidst an African-American neighborhood exceeds the EPA safety level by up to five times, a draft report of new test results shows.

The results – which the city at first refused to release – are part of a preliminary lab report obtained Wednesday by The News-Press.

"Why aren't they telling us on the news about this?" said neighborhood resident Lucretia Freeman, who's worried about the health effects of arsenic.

The samples taken in October from six on-site monitoring wells – part of a more thorough assessment being conducted for the city by GFA International – were collectively higher for arsenic than at any time since testing began in 2008.

The city first detected unacceptable arsenic levels in the groundwater on the South Street block 10 years ago as it explored a housing project there. Although periodic monitoring should have begun immediately, the Department of Environmental Protection let if fall through the cracks until 2010.

Soil tests, too, were taken, showing the sludge itself was laced with arsenic exceeding even the EPA’s commercial standard.