JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Relief is on the way for families living near an EPA-designated contaminated area where the Fairfax Street Wood Treaters facility once stood.
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson helped secure nearly $9 million in government funding to clean up the 12.5-acre site, which is primarily in a residential area, by removing debris beginning this month. The project will last for six months.
“We should be doing everything we can to eliminate this hazardous matter and clean up our community," Lawson said in a news release.
According to the EPA, from 1980 to 2010, Wood Treaters LLC pressure-treated utility poles, pilings and other lumber products using the preservative chromated copper arsenate (CCA). Wood Treaters LLC filed for bankruptcy, and by July 2010 ceased operations and abandoned the facility.
The EPA said seven above-ground storage tanks, in poor condition, contained high levels of arsenic, chromium and copper, and in August 2010, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection requested the EPA's help in mitigating the release of hazardous substances to the environment.
But despite those efforts, testing in March 2018 showed the soil was still contaminated with arsenic, according to Florida Politics.
In August 2018, Lawson worked to secure a $25,000 EPA grant to examine the contamination at the site.
“While surveying the area, I met with former Fairfax Street Wood Treaters employees who are, sadly, extremely ill from the chemicals they were exposed to while working at the plant,” Rep Lawson said. “It is unfortunate that it has taken this long to remedy this problem, but I am confident this is a move in the right direction.”
The Susie E. Tolbert Elementary School playground is located near a fence line with the site and was one of the focuses of the cleanup, the EPA said.
To ensure the community is informed about the details and timeline of the project, EPA will host a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Stanton College Preparatory School. Community members can learn more about the cleanup project and speak directly with representatives from EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection during the community meeting.