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Bartow residents fighting to keep Ft. Myers sludge away

Posted: 5:02 PM, Dec 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-26 23:01:23Z
residents angry about toxic sludge

BARTOW, Fla. — Right behind Venessa Glass’ Bartow home there is a landfill.

And while she’s never been thrilled to have it so close, now she’s afraid of it.

“These are the lives of my children here at risk,” she said.

Officials in Ft. Myers have been working on getting rid of about 30,000 gallons of sludge.

Citrus County commissioners threatened a lawsuit when initial plans were bringing it to a facility there.

Then an Alabama cement plant backed out too. Now the new plan has the sludge, ending up at the Cedar Trail Landfill.

“I met at least five neighbors this morning, that knew nothing about it. I myself didn’t find out about it until Friday,” said Glass.

The State Department of Environmental Protection approved the project, saying that once the sludge is treated, it’s not toxic.

But according to the Ft. Myers News Press, it’s shown higher than safe levels of arsenic over the years.

People living nearby are trying to get the word out, handing out fliers door-to-door.

“This stuff, I don’t know if it’s airborne. It gets in the water table. We don’t want it here,” said Janet Creswell.

Polk County officials told the News Press they don’t have regulatory power over what’s happening, but the public can pressure the company behind the project.

“Do I think they truly care about the health of my family? Absolutely not,” said Glass.

Polk County Commissioners are holding a public meeting January 8 at 9 a.m. where people can question those involved in the project.