Steve Lachnicht : Homes not in superfund zone


Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 4:18 p.m.

In response to the January 24 Speaking Out titled "Hazardous homes" by Sandra Kennedy Watts:

The county shares the frustration felt by Kennedy and other citizens dealing with the decades old issue of the Cabot-Koppers superfund site.

The county remains committed to ensuring that those agencies and companies responsible for the cleanup are held accountable.

Alachua County received a federal grant of $2.9 million to acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed homes located in neighborhoods impacted by a high rate of foreclosure. The goal of the program is to acquire, rehabilitate, and then rent or sell foreclosed homes in specific target areas to stabilize those neighborhoods.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided data by census tract and block, to identify areas with high foreclosure rates. Based on that data, specific ZIP codes were identified as being eligible areas to purchase foreclosed homes through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). Based on the program criteria and HUD data, Alachua County has purchased 20 homes through this program.

Kennedy stated: "Fully nine of the 20 homes mentioned are in neighborhoods directly impacted by the huge Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site . . ." This statement needs clarification.

Of the 20 homes purchased with federal NSP dollars, none are located in areas that have yard soil data tests available. The purchased property closest to the superfund site is on the west side of Sixth Street. The closest available soil data point to that property is located to the east of Sixth Street and indicates dioxin concentrations are below the state of Florida residential soil clean-up target level. The next closest purchased property is well over a half a mile away, east of Main Street in an area that has not been associated with this contamination.

Investigation of the extent of soil contamination near the Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is ongoing. In the event that additional offsite properties are identified by the EPA to be impacted by contamination from the Cabot-Koppers site, the EPA has indicated its intent to require Beazer East to clean up offsite-impacted properties to meet the state of Florida soil clean up levels.

While we all wait for definitive answers as to the areas impacted by this superfund site, the areas in question are both eligible and in need of these federal dollars. It would be unfair to exclude these areas because of unsubstantiated speculation on how far this contamination has spread.

Steve Lachnicht is county growth management director for Alachua County.

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