PLANT CITY RESIDENTS OUTRAGED BY NEW CORONET REPORT-Andrew Stelzer06/15/06
In March of 2004, the coronet company closed its phosphate min in plant city. Fro decades local residents had complained of health and environmental problems related to the site, but it wasnâ€™t until a lawsuit was filed that the plant finally closed. Earlier this month, the Florida department of health released the results of a study, which found that for at least the past 3 years, the area has been safe. This afternoon, angry residents confronted health department officials, and accused them in contributing to a cover up thatâ€™s been going on for almost a century. WMNFs Andrew Stelzer reports
ACT â€œPolitics at its best. I believe the politicians in Plant City..now they donâ€™t want itâ€¦I was born and raised mile and a half away..cows lose their teeth, vegetables turn brown where stuff come out of the stacks..â€?
Steve Lindsay lives a mile and a half from the site of the former coronet plant in Plant City,
ACT â€œâ€¦I grew up with a lot of boys and girls, most of em theyâ€™re dead nowâ€¦Most people are dead..momma died of pulmonary lung disease..preacher, his wife took all type of medication and theyâ€™d get back past decade city..â€™
Lindsay was one of more than a dozen people who gathered at Springhead elementary school Thursday afternoon, where state department of health officials were present to answer questions about their new study, which found the residents have not been in danger since 2004, but claims they can make no determination about the years before that. Before the residents were let into the building, they had their lawyer hold a press conference. Jim Ross is an attorney representing over 1200 people living within a few miles of the coronet plant. Their lawsuit aims to force the government to make coronet, or any other responsible party pay for remediation, for peoples property and medical costs, as well as medical monitoring for people who have not yet been tested.
ACT-Ross â€œHow is it that state and local agencies can say theres no apparent health problem when in 89 EPA said peoples health can be contaminated..â€?
ACT-Ross â€œThereâ€™s a little caveat in the report, we donâ€™t know about exposure but thereâ€™s no risk..what about these people..how can you tell them when you donâ€™t know whatâ€™s gone on..â€?
The public health assessment incorporates information from seven previous reports regarding nearby private drinking water wells; off-site soil, fish, air and urine testing; and area cancer rates. Randy Merchant, from the state's Bureau Of Community Environmental Health and co-author of the report, along with several local and state department of health representatives were present inside Springhead elementary school, with piles of brochures and copies of several studies. Ross asked Merchant to make a general statement to the residents summing up the results of the report, but Merchant said heâ€™d rather just answer questions.
ACT â€œYou mind if I just ask questions then? You said you donâ€™t have enough data. THATâ€™S CORRECT NOT ENOUGH DATAâ€¦so for people who have lived here should they be worried..UNFORTUNATELY WE DONâ€™T KNOW..EPA did a study, we are looking on site..WHAT EPA SAID< AND IM QUOTING GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION IS A MAJOR CONCERN< IT SEEMS LIKELY THAT HEAVY METSALS HAVE MIGRATED>>>ITS LIKELY TO EFFECT PEOPLE..IF DEPT OF HEALTH KNEW< WHY DONâ€™T YOU HAVE THE DATA?..when we first learned, we tested wells and found all those wells chemicals were not likely..YOU LEARNED ABOUT IT..no we first learned about it in 2002..EPA DIDNâ€™T SHARE THE REPORT..department of health..â€?
WMNF asked several local residents what they thought of the exchange between their lawyer and the state health official. ACT- Billy Williams lives across the street from the site. â€œI think somebodyâ€™s tryin to cover their rear end..it was there before 2003, I drink bottled water. I donâ€™t understand how they can come up with an assessment, I've been here for 45 years..â€?
ACT- Sheila Davis, Nettie Durant, and Vera Harper lives 2 miles away â€œI think itâ€™s terrible..I been there since 1981, water used to be the color of that table..orange..water was bad clothes messed up no matter how much bleach, white clothes was messed upâ€¦.I got health problems, daughter had cancer, breathing problemsâ€¦ALL I HEARD WAS ITS UNFORTUNATE..its terrible, you come someplace to live and you have to experience this?..â€?
ACT-Lindsay â€œIt's just politics, what heâ€™s got might be clean but I donâ€™t believe that either, hurricanes killed all the green vegetation, these mines are polluted. I beams resting too..YOU THINK YOULL EVER GET JUSTICE..maybe depends how deeply involved the politicians getâ€?
The lawsuit is currently pending against coronet Industries, but Ross says that with in the next 30 days, he will have the Hillsborough County Environmental protection commission, and the Florida department of environmental protection added to the list of defendants. He says it will likely be 18 to 24 months before the suit gets to court.
For WMNF news, Iâ€™m Andrew Stelzer