Water Contamination

The Superfund Site is dotted with retention lagoons, which are pits in the soil where toxic waste is stored. Creosote, a highly carcinogenic toxin, has seeped through layers of water and soil toward the Floridan Aquifer 200 feet below.

Until 2002, the EPA and Beazer claimed that the Floridan Aquifer could not be contaminated due to an impenetrable layer of clay underneath the retention lagoons. Gainesville Regional Utilities, along with concerned Gainesville citizens, disagreed.

Rick Hutton, an engineer from Gainesville Regional Utilities, said, “We had been telling them we didn’t believe that – you haven’t done the right investigations to know what’s happening that deep under the site.”

After further investigations, experts from the EPA, Beazer, and Gainesville Regional Utilities all agree that the Floridan Aquifer is already contaminated. From the Floridan Aquifer, creosote oils are slowly moving towards the Murphree Wellfield, which is where Gainesville Regional Utilities gets the drinking water supply for Alachua County.

“We have wells in between our site and the Murphree Well Field,” Mitchell Brourman [of Beazer East] said. “Those monitoring wells are consistently clean. The protection of Gainesville’s water supply is one of the premises of our work.”

Gainesville Regional Utilities still doesn’t consider Beazer’s methods to be adequate.

“We don’t think the low-rate pumping will work,” said Hutton. “The EPA wants to give it a chance. If it doesn’t work, we expect them to take further steps.”

Okay, so the problem is pretty severe. As a community, what can we do about it?