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Pesticide contaminant found in Florida aquifer

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Central Florida's main source of drinking water contains traces of a potentially toxic chemical leaking from a former Superfund cleanup site, officials said.

Environmental Protection Agency officials hope to identify the pollutant in the coming weeks and determine its health risk, the Orlando Sentinel reported in Wednesday's editions.

The substance, composed of pesticide molecules long classified as toxic, seeped into the ground below the abandoned Tower Chemical Co. plant, roughly a dozen miles west of Orlando.

The pollutant then traveled through a sinkhole 90 feet underground into the Floridan Aquifer, a layer of porous rock from which most of the region draws its drinking water.

EPA officials don't know how far the chemical might spread.

So far, most of the contamination is within 100 feet of the sinkhole, said EPA site manager Galo Jackson, of Atlanta. Minute traces were also found in drinking water wells of several nearby homes.

The crumbling factory sits about a half-mile from a subdivision of more than 350 homes.

Tower Chemical, which operated from 1957 to 1980, produced chlorobenzilate, used by the citrus industry to kill rust mites. In its final year, the company also extracted chemicals from DDT, which had been banned as a pesticide in 1972.

The site's $6 million cleanup ended 10 years ago. About $15 million worth of work originally slated to remove more pollutants was deemed unnecessary.


Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

 

 

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