Water-Related News

DEP blasts Fort Myers for using ‘alternative’ methods to assure toxic sludge cleanup

The Department of Environmental Protection has called Fort Myers officials out for attempting to stray from the state’s rules that ensure all toxic sludge has been removed from the South Street landfill.

The city’s progress report “appears to imply an intent going forward to deviate from the regulatory requirements … ,” DEP chief Jon Iglehart warned in a letter sent to City Manager Saeed Kazemi, whose contractors have so far hauled away 27,400 tonsof arsenic-tainted sludge.

The trigger for the DEP’s rebuke was the city’s use of what it called ‘conformity texture testing’ to assure all the sludge has been removed.

"The city described (it) as a field screening procedure to distinguish lime sludge from native soil by feel," DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said.

The approach is similar to saying, ‘There’s no more sludge here, I can tell by looking at it,' and can't be substituted for taking confirmatory samples, according to Iglehart.