Beazer East, Inc., a wood treatment company responsible for potentially-cancerous soil contamination in a neighborhood of the Gainesville area, began soil remediation at their pilot property at 436 NW 30th Ave. on Monday.
The Environmental Protection Agency designated the site a Superfund site because it found that arsenic, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins/furans and creosote compounds were toxins of concern in the soils of the area.
The contaminated area is the Koppers portion of the Cabot-Koppers property in the Stephen Foster neighborhood at Northwest 6th St. between Northeast 23rd Ave. and Northwest 32nd Ave.
The pilot home is intended to provide preliminary information that will help in the future remediation projects in the neighborhood. In this project, about a foot of soil will be removed and replaced from the property at 436 NW 30th Ave. Landscaping of the property will then follow.
Beazer East will pay about $8,000 a yard for cleanup of the site, said Scott Miller, Environmental Protection Agency remedial project manager. He described the process of fixing the soil contamination, which he said may cause cancer if subjected to prolonged exposure in certain quantities.
“We’re coming through to each yard that has related contaminants that exceeded state standards, and we’re doing soil replacement and landscape replacement where necessary,” Miller said.
This process is projected to replace the soil at all targeted areas by May 2014.
Homeowners in the neighborhood are having mixed emotions about the start of the project. Some are hopeful for the future, while others are still bitter about the past.
Although he was happy with his time at the house, Eddie Marshall, resident of the pilot property, started to notice other afflictions that he didn’t seem to get anywhere else.
“Sometimes I would have rashes around my ankles if I was out a lot during the day and getting my feet really dirty or something. I’d get the rash and it would itch,” Marshall said. “I never really experienced that anywhere else.”
Farinda Osteen, who lives on NW 29th Ave., is unhappy about what has been happening at the site for years. She said people living against the fence where the contamination is the heaviest should have been relocated.
“This is no way to clean it up. There is no way to clean it up to start with,” she said.
Osteen wants signs to be put out in front of the neighborhood to inform people of the problems that homeowners and future homeowners could face.
“People would be notified when they come into this property that this property was contaminated at one time and the people would be aware of what they are buying and living in,” said Osteen.
While Ashley Baggett, who lives on NW 30th Ave, is hopeful the process of replacing the soil will fix the problem, she fears health issues could arise because of the soil remediation.
“I don’t know so much of side effects or what could happen, I just don’t want anything to happen later down the road like cancer,” said Baggett.
The pilot property of the project should be completed before Thanksgiving, Miller said, and 80 other houses in the area will begin the remediation process by early next year.