Houses being built on contaminated land in Tampa's West River

Neighbors want problem fixed before building
Posted at 5:51 PM, Jun 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-30 17:51:56-04

"If you don't fix the problem, what is the use of building?" said former North Boulevard Homes resident Shanica Prince.

Shanica Prince used to live in North Boulevard Homes.

"They should let people know what they're moving into before they actually just build on top,” she said.

The city started tearing down the decades-old housing complex to make way for new multi-use affordable housing.

"They need to get themselves in a position that they can eliminate this problem. I mean, immediately,” said West Tampa resident Joseph Jones.

But West Tampa neighbors are concerned about old state environmental reports coming to light as the West River development takes shape.

"You're not aware of the effect of the environment that those places had on the environment,” said former North Boulevard Homes resident Dwight Bolden.

Bolden remembers the chemical plant at LaSalle and North Rome adjacent to boulevard homes.

In 2015, a groundwater assessment shows a contamination in wells of a known cancer-causing agent called vinyl chloride.

"I feel like at times, one side of town is more important than the other side of town and that's not fair at all,” said Prince.

Florida's Department of Environmental Protection says the plume is under Boulevard Homes but residents in the area drink and bath in city water.

A DEP spokesperson says the spill isn't a public health risk because there's no soil contamination.

Still former residents like Prince wonder if the new project will be affected.

"A lot of people still do need help and have housing problems,” she said.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says the City is working on grant money to clean up the contamination.