93ºF

Shipyards report brings concerning news of heavy contamination

Report: soil not safe for unrestricted use

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The full report is back on the soil quality at the Jacksonville Shipyards and it is not good news for the city or investors who want to turn the land into a 48-acre riverfront paradise.

A series of soil tests were conducted because ground contaminants were suspected and the 5,000 page report, details every inch of the shipyard property which has been used for industrial and commercial purposes since the mid 1800's.

The soil contains toxic materials like arsenic, lead, benzene and PCBs and city officials are torn on what to do next.

"The problem is not going to go away," Jacksonville city councilman Bill Guilliford said.

Guilliford hasn't read all 5,000 plus pages of the shipyards sight assessment report released by a local engineering firm but he's convinced the city needs to eliminate the contaminants in the soil before the final plans are drawn up on exactly what to build on top of the land.

READ: Partial report on the Shipyards contamination

"We've got $13 million set aside for environmental remediation and I think it has a lot to do with what the final report says. Whatever you do with the property, you're going to have to fix the problem," Guilliford said.

That $13 million Gulliford is talking about is from a remediation fund set aside to remove the arsenic, lead and benzene from the soil and water.

City councilmember John Crescimbeni said he has a different approach to the situation.

"I don't want anything major done to remediate the problem, until there's a final place in plan for the property," Crescimbeni said. "The city does not want to do it twice. It's going to be a very expensive process."

The shipyards report also revealed contamination dating back to 1901 when the Great Fire of Jacksonville destroyed most of the downtown area. Burned wood from houses and buildings was used as fill material along the waterfront. The report said the soil is not suitable for unrestricted use.

"There were different standards back then. People didn't think about those kinds of things so we would bury stuff here and there. I'd say if we were to penetrate the entire city with ground radar we would be appalled at what we find," Guilliford said.

Negotiations between the Downtown Investment Authority and Khan's investment firm are continuing as Khan eyes plans to turn the shipyards into a 48-acre downtown riverfront development.

Khan's investment firm has yet to comment on the new report and the City of Jacksonville is also not commenting until a thorough review of the report is completed.


About the Author: