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SLUDGE VICTIMS

May 2001 update - compiled by Helane Shields - prepared for WWW by ESRA

Sun and Weekly Herald Wed, April 18, 2001

04/18/01

Smell, illness blamed on sludge dumping

continued

Service in Fort Myers. Eagle did not return phone calls Tuesday.

Robert Neads, who was elected to the commission five months ago, said the volume of complaints forced the commissioners to do something.

The commissioners held a workshop to draft the ordinance April 10, which was attended by Alan Behrens, president of DeSoto Citizens Against Pollution.

'There are too many trucks coming in," said Behrens, who believes DeSoto County to be the largest dumping area in Florida. "It's permitted, but no one enforces it.,"

According to David Hoppel, Lyndsey and Taylor's father, who went on an inspection with an agent from the Florida Deparment of Environmental Protection (DEP) some sludge dumping was about 90 feet from a body of water. According to Dennis Jackson, supervisor of DeSoto County's health department, the sludge must be dumped at least 200 feet from any body of water.

However, when Jackson's staff inspected the property, they found substantial compliance with the code.

"The person from the DEP cited some different rules," Jackson said. Staff at DEP did not return several phone calls Tuesday.

There are several types of sludge and septic debris dumped in DeSoto County. The quality of sludge and septage depends on how much it has been treated with chemicals to kill dangerous pathogens. Lime is spread on the sludge to regulate the acid level and hasten decomposition.

DeSoto County sheriff's deputies were called to the scene of the sludge dump April 3. David Hoppel told Lt. Sam Williamson he tried to film a truck dumping sludge on the property next to his the night before. Hoppel said the dumping had been taking place for some time.

Hoppel said the property owner had a permit to dump the sludge from DeSoto Health Department. Hoppel said he believed Eagle was moving onto the property and becoming a resident. Eagle had made some small improvements to the property but had made no attempt to move there.

In his incident report, Williamson wrote:

FLORIDA - DESOTO COUNTY - 4/18/01 - SMALL CHILDREN SUFFER BRONCHIAL INFECTION, VOMITING, DIARRHEA, ROTAVIRUS "This is an airborne virus... it is blowing right on our property. 'WE'RE PRISONERS IN OUR OWN HOUSE."

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