Bay Pines An Accident Waiting to Happen

Those are the words of private environmental investigator Becky Sharp when she called the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department on February 3, 1992 concerning the environmental contamination located at an industrial park in Bay Pines. When she inspected the industrial plant at the former APF Industries, she found open acid containers and other chemicals that were so powerful they disintegrated concrete. She feared they would catch fire or explode. Yet, 17 years later, local residents are only now discovering the environmental hazard that surrounds their neighborhood. According to a WFLA report filed by Mark Douglas, “Some chemicals are found in concentrations as much as 1,400 times the level at which the state targets an area for cleanup.”
The EPA deemed the site hazardous noting in its records, “the release or threat of release of hazardous substances at the site may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or welfare or the environment.”
Earlier this year, Senator Charlie Justice proposed legislation that would make it mandatory for residents to be notified of such a toxic health hazard in their neighborhood. The bill failed and received no support from the Environmental Protection Agency. Justice, undeterred by last year’s failure, has re-submitted another bill for consideration in this year’s legislative sesssion.
As in the Raytheon toxic plume in the nearby Azalea neighborhood, residents weren’t notified about the danger. Now officials from the Pinellas County Health Department want to inspect some of the wells in the area but not in the area where the plume is thought to be migrating-south and east toward Harbor Lights.