With cleanup effort, is it enough to remove contaminants from the Koppers Superfund site?

By on May 30th, 2013

Two feet of soil needs to be removed from the neighborhood near Gainesville’s Koppers Superfund site.

And over the course of seven hours Thursday afternoon, Mitchell Brourman presented four times to the public the step-by-step plans for doing so.

Brourman, senior environmental manager of Beazer East, the company responsible for managing the site cleanup, led a meeting for concerned citizens and residents of the Stephen Foster neighborhood. He and an Environmental Protection Agency project manager discussed the removal of contaminated soil from properties west of the Koppers Superfund site.

The soil removal is scheduled to begin in January 2014.

The process of acquiring access agreements, gathering soil samples and creating house-specific plans for removal will begin in a few weeks. Once gathered, all information will be sent to the EPA for approval.

The legal agreement between Beazer East and the federal government is still pending. Until both the information sent to the EPA and the agreement are approved, the removal project cannot begin.

“It’s the logistics that takes the time, not the execution,” EPA Project Manager Scott Miller said.

Removing the soil will likely stretch across at least two months.

Dr. Pat Cline is a technical adviser for Protect Gainesville Citizens, a group that provides Superfund site information to the public, believes the EPA and Beazer East are doing more than they are called to do for the community.

“I’ve seen Mitch and Beazer do things that have never been done before,” she said.

Beazer East has offered to both replace property damaged in the process of removal and allow residents to choose the replacements. Community-chosen landscape designers will help instruct residents with Florida-friendly landscaping.

Still, at least a few neighborhood residents aren’t happy with the site’s progress.

Sandra Watts-Kennedy, president of the Stephen Foster Association Inc., thought Thursday’s presentation was an empty exercise.

“(The EPA) is more about tamping down the situation,” said Watts-Kennedy, who argued for a more drastic approach: residents should abandon the area altogether.

“What we need is relocation out of contamination.”

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