Special Reports

Five-year Tallevast cleanup proposed: Lockheed submits new plan, replacing interim system

TALLEVAST — A long-awaited revise of a plan for the cleaning up of toxic groundwater in this southern Manatee County community was submitted Tuesday to the state environmental regulators.

Lockheed Martin officials delivered the Remedial Action Plan Addendum to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection offices in Temple Terrace late Tuesday afternoon.

The addendum was a response to the DEP’s March review of the revisions of a proposed clean-up plan Lockheed submitted more than a year ago.

The residents have not had a chance to review the plan as of Tuesday, but it may adddress most of their concerns.

A copy of the plan was not available Tuesday, but a company press release indicated the majority of the contamination will be cleaned up within five years.

This will be accomplished through a new treatment process that will replace the smaller, interim system now in place.

The process will pump the contaminated groundwater at an accelerated rate of 300 gallons per minute through four extraction trenches and 77 extraction wells, according to Gary Cambre, spokesman for Lockheed.

The new treatment operation will take place in a new building at the site of the former beryllium plant, the source of the contamination, that was in operation since 1961.

Cambre said construction of the new building will take 26 months to complete once the DEP approves the remedial plan.

The Bethesda, Md.-based corporation purchased the former beryllium plant on Tallevast Road near 15th Street East in 1996.

In 2000, it reportedly discovered chemicals leaked into the soil and contaminated the groundwater of this mostly minority community, which got most of its drinking water from wells.

Testing has found the underground contamination plume to be at least 200 acres.

“The Florida Department of Protection requires the party responsible to prepare the plan based on data collected,” Cambre said.

Cambre said the addendum addresses the concerns the Tallevast community raised in March to the last revised plan.

But there may be some issues that still need to be resolved, said Laura Ward, president of FOCUS, an advocacy group for the Tallevast residents.

“Based on the press release, the plan will address some of the questions we had,” said Ward, who had not seen a copy of the remedial plan at the time of a telephone interview late Tuesday afternoon, “but not full all the concerns.”

She said the removal of the older buildings and construction of the new treatment plant will create disruption in the community, especially for the three families who live within 25 yards of the site.

“This is a major issue for the community,” Ward said. “We feel they (the families) should be moved from that area.”

Overall, though, she said the press release bullet points are addressing the basic concerns of FOCUS.

“From our perspective, the things they changed are what our technical people asked them to do,” Ward said. “We think they will address them.”

Cambre said Lockheed will continue to work with the community.

“We are committed to investing in the environmental health and economic needs of the Tallevast community,” he said. “We are investing in the environmental cleanup to restore the community’s faith in their land and water.

The company has already invested in the health needs of Tallevast residents by implementing a free medical examination program, Cambre said.

Pamala Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the DEP Southwest Florida Office, said the agency will be reviewing the remedial plan document.

“There’s no timetable associated with the review,” Vazquez said.

Once the DEP finishes the review the agency can approve the plan or request additional information.

“The objective is to take whatever is needed for a thorough review,” Vazquez said.

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