Water-Related News

EPA readies final cleanup of Central Florida’s Tower Chemical Superfund site

One of Central Florida’s most notorious pollution messes is a little more than two months away from a heavy assault by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Tower Chemical Superfund site, located in a once-remote area now quickly developing east of Clermont and just north of State Road 50, has been poked, tested, scraped and pumped with cleanup agents for decades. The primary contaminant, a chemical related to DDT called 4,4′-dichlorobenzophenone, or DCBP, remains stubbornly underground, migrating slowly in shallow aquifer waters.

“It has not shown itself to be moving away from the site,” said Rob Pope, EPA’s project manager for the Tower Chemical site, appearing at a community meeting this week. “It has shown itself to be what we would call intractable.”

Tower Chemical was a pesticide maker until it closed in 1980, when the owner fled the country. Pesticide ingredients from the plant had leached into the ground and into an ancient sinkhole. In 1983, the property was added to the nation’s list of Superfund sites. The early cleanup projects included demolishing buildings, removing wetlands, hauling off several feet of topsoil and bringing in 12 feet of clean topsoil.The remaining contamination, still very toxic, is deep underground, posing little risk to people but not going away on its own.

The Tower Chemical site in Lake County has been on the EPA's Superfund list for 40 years.