Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Tallevast's toxic plume gets bigger

The issue of Ground water contaminations is not happening over night or yesteryear.

You see due to the industrailization & blooming populations especially the baby bloomer's era, the heavy use of chemical fertilizer & also years of using animal waste can add up altogether.

Therefore, the issue of Contaminations, if it is checked earlier, it would not be having a major issue today..

In my opinion, the whole mother earth ground water are contaminated.. The thing for us to do is to size up the contaminations & take step to put things right for our Great health.

Tallevast's toxic plume gets bigger
SCOTT RADWAY Herald Staff Writer

TALLEVAST - Groundwater contamination from the old American Beryllium plant has spread across 50 acres in this small community.

That area is double the size of the most recent estimate of the plume, according to a report released Tuesday.

"We were originally told the plume was contained to the (plant) site and had seeped off-site just a bit," said Laura Ward, president of the Tallevast community group FOCUS.

"And look at where they report put it today," she said.

It was in late 2003 that residents here were told not to worry, the cancer-causing solvents from the old plant had remained mostly on site.

The old plant sits like a hub of a wheel with spokes of homes running out in nearly every direction. But experts said only a few properties adjacent to the plant might be impacted, if any.

Then in 2004, state tests showed the plume was three times larger and some resident wells were contaminated. The report released Tuesday aims to finally map the plume, except for three remaining edges.

Lockheed Martin, which is responsible for cleaning up the contamination, prepared the report as part of a state consent order. The deadline for the report was Tuesday.

"I think we were all surprised the plume got as far as it did," said Gail Rymer, spokeswoman for Lockheed. "But now we know what we are dealing with and we can move very quickly to the (clean-up) phase."

Lockheed did not include a map of the plume with its report. Once the final three areas of contamination are plotted a map will be prepared, officials said.

Rymer explained that this round of tests was aimed primarily at determining the exact area of the contamination so it could be remediated.

If the Florida Department of Environmental Protection reviews and approves the report, Lockheed can begin hammering out the clean-up plan. Lockheed would have 45 days to offer a plan and then another 15 days to finalize it, said DEP Tallevast project manager William Kutash.

Rymer said some drilling continues in three areas of Tallevast where the last three edges of the plume need to be defined. Those areas - one northeast in a wooded area, one southwest on a golf course, and one southeast on farmland - still show small traces of contaminants and Lockheed will stop drilling only when no traces are found, she said.

The report on that work is expected to be sent to the DEP in early March. But a clean-up plan can be developed when DEP approves Tuesday's report, she said.

Kutash said a review usually takes 30 days, but this one will be expedited.

Rymer said even though the plume is larger, Lockheed believes no one in the community is still at risk to exposure. In May of 2004, the remaining residents using wells for drinking water were put on county water.

The plume runs out about 500 feet north of the plant on Tallevast Road, about 2,000 feet east, 1,000 feet west and 1,500 feet south of the site, Rymer said. A half mile is 2,640 feet.

County health officials said they could not comment on the report - which runs to more than 2,000 pages - until they had time to review it. County health officials have said on several occasions that drinking water wells in a half-mile radius around the plant were tested in 2004 to ensure no one was being exposed to contamination in the area.

Tim Varney, a health and environmental consultant for Tallevast residents, said once the report is reviewed, it can help the state ensure a cleanup is done properly and it can help county officials study what the health impact on the community has been.

"But there is an awful lot of work that has been done and it will take a while to review it," Varney said.

Manatee County was also awaiting the report to help it design an overlay district for Tallevast that could potentially require builders to take special care because of the contamination. The county also needs the data to evaluate a planned road widening project for Tallevast.

County planners and commissioners received copies Tuesday as well.

The main contaminant being tracked is trichloroethylene, or TCE.

Drinking or breathing high levels of TCE may cause damage to the nervous system, damage to the liver and lungs, abnormal heart beat, coma and possible death, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Lockheed has spent $3 million so far testing for it, Rymer said. TCE was found in highest concentration near the plant site and then its levels tapper off.

TCE is heavier than water and generally sinks until it hits an impermeable layer then moves horizontally, unless it finds a passageway to go deeper.

Rymer said the TCE is generally contained to the upper aquifer which runs down to about 30 to 40 feet where often clay layers prevent it from sinking further. The TCE in the upper aquifer was generally found at 20 feet or deeper because of its weight.

In some areas closer to the source, TCE was found deeper in the water table, going as deep as 278 feet in one site. In what is called the intermediate aquifer, Rymer said the majority of the contamination went down to 150 feet.

The deepest aquifer, called the Floridan aquifer, starts at about 300 feet and the contamination is not believed to have penetrated that layer.

As part of the report, Lockheed also did extensive soil testing. The report summary noted that sampling found low-levels of such things as arsenic in some samples. But Rymer said those levels did not present a health risk to residents.
Tallevast's toxic plume gets bigger

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