Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Good Justice

Legislation to enhance the notification requirements for sites contaminated with harmful toxins passed unanimously through the Senate Environmental Committee today. The bill, sponsored by Senator Charlie Justice (D - St. Petersburg), is a direct result of a toxic plume affecting residents of Pinellas County. The plume was discovered in 1991, but residents were not made aware of the contamination until 2008, seventeen years later. During that time, the dangerous chemicals have migrated off site affecting two apartment complexes, three neighborhoods, community parks and schools.

“If we had the kind of notification standards I propose in this bill, the situation in St. Petersburg would not have grown to the level of putting people’s health, property value and trust at risk.” Senator Justice said.

Presently, the Department of Environmental Protection only notifies the county administrator and any residents that have contamination on their property. Senator Justice’s bill will require notification to also be sent to residents living within 1000 feet of the contaminated area, elected officials and community leaders.

“People have the right to know if there are dangerous chemicals potentially affecting their family,” Senator Justice stated. “I am proud to work on this good legislation and ensure that we put a stop to situations like this from happening in the future.”

Senate Bill 114 now goes to the Senate Education Pre-K through 12 committee.

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