FAMU central manufacturing plant placed on non-compliance facilities

Oil spills from an underground tank have placed Florida A&M’s central manufacturing plant on the list of non-compliance facilities.

The plant, located at 2400 Wahnish Way, is on the watch list because of an out of regulation petroleum underground storage tank or UST’s  usually large tanks used to store petroleum products like gasoline, kerosene, diesel, jet fuel and other products, according to an official at the  Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 

“FAMU’s facility is out of compliance, due to old hoses that needed replacing on their [underground storage] tank, and other noted maintenance issues,” said Roger Rook, data analyst at FDEP.

Rook said surface spills in the area surrounding the tank needed to be cleaned up when the plant’s tank was inspected on June 22, 2009, and an FDEP report said FAMU’s tank was a “major out of compliance.” 

Since the report, the plant has not reported to the FDEP that they have brought the tank up to code.

“I’m not sure what you are speaking to, because the issue of the tank being out of compliance I am not aware of,” said Laureatte Scott, who works with Plant Operation and Management.

Scott’s manager at POMA, Kendall Jones, did not respond to request for  comment. 
Rook said if the hoses and other minor problems mentioned in the report are repaired, then it is unlikely that the problem would get worse. The FAMU plant was in compliance 2007 and 2008, according to the FDEP.

As a part of the Sunshine week events in March and April, the FDEP expanded its waste cleanup maps and contaminated sites on the Internet to educate the public on petroleum tank spills and other waste sites which are located in their neighborhoods. There are 13,527 contaminated sites in Leon County, all of which stem from petroleum underground storage tank  leaks, according to the FDEP website. 

This problem of leaking underground storage tanks is not limited to the FAMU campus. DEP records also show that many south side neighborhood gas stations and other government facilities are also on the noncompliant list. Gasoline often leaks out of petroleum underground storage tanks at gas stations, said Rook. 

Florida State University’s petroleum underground tank is up to par, but there have been prior maintenance issues, said Rook. Other local petroleum contaminated sites that need cleanup include the Greyhound Bus terminal on Appleyard Drive and the BP Gas Station on Lake Bradford Road, which is closed.  

While contamination is fairly widespread, money for cleanup is scarce. There is no state legislation to pay to cleanup petroleum tank spills and leaks, said Rook. After 1999, the state petroleum cleanup program was eliminated and has not been replaced.

Now property owners must pay to clean up their contaminated sites. It cost about $450,000 to clean up an average spill, while even a minor spill could cost more than $100,000, Rook said.

Bill Phillips, owner of the BP on South Monroe St., said that the cleanup and maintenance of the petroleum tanks cost him thousands every month. 

“Someone will spill gasoline or petroleum when filling the tank, and it is usually some guy who isn’t paying attention,”Phillips said.

Cautionary repairs, like replacing the “cracked and worn hoses” that the FAMU plant needs, would only cost a nominal fee, according to the FDEP report.

Plant officials reported in 2009 that they were not completing required monthly inspections of the tank either, the FDEP reported stated.

But concerns over contaminated sites aren’t just about money.  Petroleum leaks cause environmental and health problems. Petroleum spills and leaks often contaminate the site or seep into the area’s ground water. Compounds in petroleum products have been shown to affect the blood, immune system, liver, spleen, kidneys and lungs. Some compounds can cause cancer if there is exposure over a long period, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

And people who live in the southside near these sites are ingesting or being in contact with carcinogenic and harmful compounds regularly, said Ron Johns with Beasley Allen Law Firm, who specializes in mesothelioma cases. 

“Mesothelioma has been proven to be linked with petroleum and gasoline ground water contamination,” said Johns. 

0To check to see if there are any contaminated sites in your neighborhood visit  http://epic229.dep.state.fl.us/DepClnup/welcome.do