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Solite-area residents told state plans to test grounds in next few weeks

By Lee Wardlaw lee@claytodayonline.com
Posted 4/20/23

LAKE ASBURY – Clay County Commissioner Kristen Burke told residents she plans to keep pushing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to investigate the site of the former Solite …

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Solite-area residents told state plans to test grounds in next few weeks


Posted

LAKE ASBURY – Clay County Commissioner Kristen Burke told residents she plans to keep pushing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to investigate the site of the former Solite plant.

Burke vowed to continue her fight against the future of the Solite property. Solite was an aggregate kiln company that ran a rash operation at a 900-acre property in the Lake Asbury/Green Cove Springs area from the 1970s to 1990s. Developers want to build on the property, but the county said it will block every attempt until an independent third-party group tests areas of concern.

During the 2½-hour meeting last Monday at Russell Baptist Church, Burke and Bruce Reynolds, who formerly worked for the Navy as a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager, provided the same 50-page report given two weeks ago to County Manager Howard Wanamaker and County Attorney Courtney Grimm. Burke forwarded the report to the FDEP, Florida Rep. Sam Garrison (R-Fleming Island), Sen. Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) and U.S. Rep. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach).

“So now that they have already spoken to the FDEP, and the FDEP knows that we’re not going away, we are waiting to get their response and see how they are going to take care of this, and not let Solite move on,” she said.

During the meeting with county officials, Burke laid out further claims and evidence against Solite, which included several tidbits of background information previously reported by Clay Today.

Burke said the FDEP was not doing its due diligence and that Solite needed to be held further accountable for its actions. However, the state environmental agency did respond to her plan presentation and request for inquiry among five other recipients, which included Grimm.

The email to the county commissioner began like this: “FDEP has received your questions and concerns about the status of contamination and property transactions at the site.”

The electronic communication then said the prospective buyer had notified the FDEP it plans to perform additional testing in the areas where former employees previously identified, and they would provide the test results of samplings once they complete their first phase.

FDEP will observe the testing, which will be conducted in the next few weeks.

With much evidence and a few unproven claims, Burke and Reynolds made them conclude that all available information leads them to suspect the entire Solite property may be contaminated with ash deposited from kilns/haystacks. They believe it derived from burning impermissible liquid burnable materials and the disposal of hazardous waste around the property reported by former employees, including equipment containing fuels, other liquid and solid materials, and structural components dumped into the property’s lakes.

Water flows by rainfall can cross over to private properties, depositing contaminants, they suspected, which may have led to a correlation between on and off-site contamination to an apparent high cancer rate and other illnesses in deaths in surrounding areas. Burke and Reynolds have an organized slideshow with “receipts” that paints a clearer picture of what happened at Solite. There is currently a consent order for the 80-acre Village Center property and the rest of the 900-acre Solite parcel, according to FDEP’s electronic communication to Burke and others.

“FDEP does not anticipate any further discussion about possible amendments to the Consent Order until the prospective purchaser finishes evaluating the environmental conditions of the Stoneridge Farms property,” was written in the email.

The separate parcel was purchased recently by an anonymous buyer. The transaction was detailed and confirmed in an email message to two parties dated April 3 from Albert Galliano, an employee of the Northeast Solite Corporation.

Galliano said the parcel is physically separated from the former facility and served as a buffer to the plant. While the Village Center is part of the same property, the remainder of the over 900-acre property is defined as LA SOL in the county’s land development code.