LEESBURG -- Lee County officials spent much of Wednesday scrambling to assure local residents that no wells near the closed Lee County Municipal Solid Waste Landfill on State Highway 32 were contaminated after two local television stations reported that there were problems near the landfill.
Project Geologist David Payne with TTL environmental consultants sent media representatives a summary of a report he presented before the Lee County Commission Tuesday night in response to what he called "inaccurate information" reported by the local Fox TV affiliate, and County Public Works Director Mike Sistrunk said a report by the local NBC affiliate was "totally wrong."
TTL was contracted by Lee County to complete an Assessment of Corrective Measures regarding groundwater quality at the landfill after required Environmental Protection Division tests in 2000 showed "statistically significant" levels of certain contaminants near the facility, which had been closed in April of 1994.
When those levels exceeded preset standards, the EPD in 2002 required the county to put together an Assessment of Corrective Measures, which TTL began work on in August of 2004. The company, which has locations in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, has been monitoring the contaminant levels since. Payne's presentation during a public hearing Tuesday was part of the EPD's requirements.
TTL prepares such reports on a semi-annual basis.
When both television stations indicated that ITT's report pointed to possible contamination of nearby wells, Lee officials started getting calls Wednesday morning from concerned citizens.
County Administrator Tony Massey called the TV reports "unfortunate."
"TTL's report indicated there are no problems with the groundwater at that closed landfill," he said Wednesday. "Their report was simply a part of what they do to meet EPD requirements. Unfortunately, some media reports misconstrued that report."
County Commission Chairman Ed Duffy said TTL's report actually indicated no evidence of contamination of drinking water.
"We employ TTL environmental to monitor our closed landfill on a semi-annual basis to make sure that there are no existing environmental concerns," he said. "We do not have any problems. There has been no evidence of any drinking wells contaminated within that half-mile radius (of the landfill) and no detected chemicals of concern in samples from the (adjacent) Muckalee Creek."
Sistrunk said he was surprised to learn that the local NBC affiliate was shooting footage at the landfill before the commission meeting.
"What TTL does is monitor that land around the closed landfill to make sure there are no problems," he said. "It's an EPD requirement. Where (the TV stations) came up with the idea that there might be contamination, I have no idea. I think Mr. Duffy mentioned that Environmental Health would test wells for anyone who was concerned, and things snowballed from there.
"At no time has there been anything found that would present a problem to the people in that area. What was reported was totally wrong."