Even More on Toxic Sludge

November 2, 2018.  The following letter was sent to the Citrus County Commission on October 25, and was published today in the Citrus County Chronicle.

Dear Commissioners:

Jon Iglehart, Director, South District of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), has stated that arsenic levels at the Dunbar sludge site are unacceptable for residential and recreational use in Fort Myers, but acceptable for treatment at the LafargeHolcim (LH) industrial site in Crystal River.  Based on the toxicity standards established for these use areas, he is probably right.

Clearly, an increasing global demand for cement and concrete exists as nations develop and industrialize.  Transporting the material to and treating it in Citrus County may create a few temporary jobs.

Those are not good enough reasons to support bringing this sludge to the Nature Coast.

Mr. Iglehart no doubt knows more about the LH operation in Crystal River than I do.  I’ve never visited it or talked with any of its employees.  I have, however, uncovered information about its plant in Ravena, New York and other locations nationwide with histories of excessive pollutant emissions.  I’ve also come across articles describing disturbing activities at its plant in Syria to keep it operational, leading to criminal investigations and an indictment of the company this year by the Paris High Court in France.

Are we to trust LH to take all necessary steps to keep the sludge from leaching into a water supply that already contains high concentrations of arsenic?

Mr. Iglehart asks us to trust his depleted and underfunded DEP to provide proper environmental safeguards and oversight of the sludge treatment process, while shifting the blame for its abysmal watershed mismanagement record throughout the state.  Who then, bears responsibility for the deterioration of the Everglades, and the toxic guacamole-like summer slime events originating in Lake Okeechobee that have become the new normal, with devastating effects on once world class fisheries, tourism and outdoor recreation in the adjoining St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and distant communities on both east and west coasts.

Why on earth would anyone elected to serve the best interests of Citrus County support bringing this toxic material here?  Just to create a few temporary jobs?

You have to wonder if some form of political payback is in play.  I wonder how much the cement / concrete industry has contributed to the campaigns of persons running for office.

Gary Rankel, PackerYaker
1675 N Shadowview Path
Citrus Hills, Florida