Water-Related News

Fort Myers sludge testing takes unexpected turn

With no official explanation other than "the tests are inconclusive," crews began installing four new monitoring wells Thursday around the perimeter of the City of Fort Myer's decades-old lime sludge dump on South Street.

The vague explanation came last week with news of elevated arsenic from recent groundwater tests reported not by the city but by The News-Press.

But it’s not the lab results -- showing up to five times the safe level of arsenic in the groundwater – that are inconclusive. It’s what they mean.

“The city has not been honest and truthful with the people,” said civil rights activist Willie Green, who’s been crusading to end polluting land uses in the minority community. “They are trying to locate the wells to the north to see if the toxins could come from someplace else. Come on, lets get real.”

Midway Avenue, where most of the wells are being placed, lies in the opposite direction city consultants believe the ground water flows. If tests from the offsite wells come back showing arsenic, it could change the narrative of the 55-year-old site dramatically.

Since 2006, the city and DEP have acknowledged that the site’s arsenic-tainted soil is the cause of the arsenic in the groundwater.

If tests from the offsite wells show arsenic upstream, it will be harder to say the city’s lime sludge is the culprit.