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Protecting our children shouldn't be this difficult

Friday, February 22, 2008

park_child.jpgThis is what it's come to: In a neighborhood in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, residents are being advised to avoid all contact with dirt and dust. The soil in Durrs is so contaminated with toxic chemicals resulting from a garbage incinerator that, for years, blanketed the future sites of buildings, yards and parks with a layer of ash.

Here's a money quote for you:

City officials repeatedly have stressed that a report on the site claims the level of contamination found does not present a public health hazard, although people are warned against breathing the dust. [Emphasis mine]
Boy, that sounds on the up-and-up. "No really, it's fine! We promise! Just don't breathe, okay?"

Soil in come areas of the neighborhood contains 240 parts per trillion dioxin -- one of the most toxic chemicals in existence and a potent carcinogen. According to state law, the dioxin levels are 34 times those that should trigger a cleanup.

But so far there is no cleanup, because no one -- not the city or the state -- is willing to pay for them. An attorney has pressed charges on behalf of residents of Durrs, but in a neighborhood where children can't play in the park without risking exposure to toxic chemicals it should not take a lawsuit to get the mess cleaned up.

The attorney pressing charges calls it "disgusting," and she's right. It's also absolutely shameful.

Photo by Remuse.