CORONET INDUSTRIES

08/20/03

(SB 1: I think it’s hogwash) This is what many of those in attendance at the town meeting at Marshall Middle School gym in Plant City felt last night. About 700 people attended the meeting held to address concerns over possible pollution from Coronet Industries, a phosphorous mine. The concern over health problems from the mine is beginning to garner national attention, the CBS crew from 48 Hours was in attendance.

In the last five years, Coronet has been given three consent orders, a legal document requiring a business to fix any problems that are found within a specified time. Rick Gerrity, Director of the Environmental Protection Commission. (SB 6; OQ …audit has pointed out)

The audit has found around 140 issues, or problems, that must be fixed by May 2005. Residents of the community feel this is too long.

Kathy Gumpert’s believes that those conducting studies on the plant don’t know everything there is to know. (SB 11; OQ... what you want to know).

Former Coronet employee Jeff Tennesy worked there about 10 years. He says while there he saw illegal activities going on. (SB 4; OQ … about 10 years). He went onto describe a number of his friends with whom he worked that have come down with health problems such as brain cancer and another friend who is told that he has extremely bad health problems that cannot be explained.

Studies have been conducted in some 43 residnetial well water sources in the areas surrounding the Coronet Plant. Dr. Douglas Holt, Director of the Hillsborough Health Department read the findings he received Monday at 6 pm night from these tests.

He said there was nothing found that would render the water unsafe. However, 21 had so-called secondary standards, which makes the water discolored or smell bad. One well had an elevated level of arsenic at 13 parts per billion, but is still in current acceptable standards. (SB 7: OQ…our determinations).

Something that was found in nice wells is Boron, a mineral that occurs naturally as well as being used in industry.

Holt didn’t know what Boron is, so he conducted some quick research on the internet when he got the findings of the tests the night before the meeting. Although it does not cause cancer, it has been shown to cause fertility problems. In large doses taken in a short time it can also harm the kidneys, stomach, liver, intestines, and brain.

However, even though the wells tested were not found to be unsafe, about half the people whose wells were tested which had an elevated level of anything has been ordered to not drink their water.

Residents scoffed at the idea that the secondary standards only make the water discolored or smell bad. Cynthia Harrelson has lived within a mile of the mine for four months. Whenever she does laundry it has a foul odor and a reddish tint. The consistency of her hair and those also living in the house is like straw. She also described some of the problems with her health since living in the area (SB 9; OQ ..and it’s safe). She and her family have also developed a kind of fungus growing under the nails making them cracked and discolored.

Residents say all wells should be tested, and some are complaining that they have requested their well be tested, and no one has come out as promised.

Many of those who attended the meeting was run badly, some calling it a fiasco.

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