Superfund in Gainesville

HALI MCKINLEY LESTER

“Hide Your Kids…Hide Your Wife…Cause Koppers’ Superfund is KILLING EVERYONE Up in HERE!” Believe it or not, this dire statement is meant for Gainesville residents. A watchdog site, koppersgainesville.com, currently works to warn residents about the dangers of Gainesville’s own superfund site. If you travel to the pristine springs near Gainesville, you see the abundant clear, clean water. Floating down the stream in a tube, it’s easy to assume that water is something we don’t need to worry about. However, a large portion of Gainesville’s water supply is actually tainted by contamination from two production facilities.

Superfund was a program organized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that attempted to clean up sites around the U.S. that had been contaminated with hazardous substances and pollutants. Most UF students will be surprised to discover that Gainesville is home to two Superfund sites that were placed on the EPA’s list in 1984, due to contaminated soil and groundwater from the facilities. The Koppers’ property is a former wood-treating facility, and the Cabot Carbon property used to host a charcoal production facility. Although both of these facilities have been shut down for several years, the environmental havoc they wreaked brings long-term consequences.

Although the EPA lists the human exposure status and contaminated ground water status as under control, the site construction is not complete, nor do they anticipate it to be ready for use. Yet the lack of alarm on the EPA website belies the precarious reality for Gainesville residents who are impacted by the pollution and contamination of the Superfund location. On the Koppers’ Gainesville site, the authors warn readers about the dangers posed. Residents have reported higher occurrences of various illnesses, disabilities, respiratory problems, and even cancer in areas affected by the Superfund site.

Luckily, Alachua County is not sitting idly by as the Superfund contamination wreaks havoc on residents. According to koppersgainesville.com, the Alachua County Commission has even written to President Obama hoping that he can speed up the purification process and protect the municipal water supply. Although the EPA started the site in 1984, the site is still not finished, a startling discovery for many who wonder why our environment has been allowed wto be subjected to pollution for the past 36 years. Interestingly, the corporation Beazer East, who is responsible for the site cleanup, is the same entity as Koppers.

A scary reality for Florida residents in general is that the pollutants from the Cabot-Koppers site have the potential to contaminate the Florida Aquifer, which provides 90% of the drinking water to Floridians. Clearly, something must be done as soon as possible. Humans deserve the right to clean drinking water, and as Gainesville citizens, we need to advocate for the protection of our water.

You might scoff at these attempts to warn Gainesville residents of the dangers posed to their water supply because tap water is purified before we drink it…right? Yes, but the water’s original quality still matters, and in Gainesville, we face a problem with polluted water supply. Don’t forget to be an informed citizen, so that you can advocate for your right to an environment free of pollution and contamination.

Photo from http://haileplantationrealestate.com/

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