Commission looks for plan before approving clean up of Mosquito Control facility plume

The Escambia Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 to table a supplemental budget amendment for $316,646 to clean up a contaminated groundwater plume that has halted the construction of the Corrine Jones-Government Street stormwater pond.

Petroleum and pesticide groundwater contamination is caused by the former Escambia County Mosquito Control facility at 603 W. Romana Street. In 2005, the site was designated a Brownfield and the County entered into a Brownfield Site Rehabilitation Agreement (BSRA) with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

As part of the agreement, the County is charged with remediating the contamination plume. The plume boundaries have been defined based on extensive groundwater testing and monitoring, and it has been shown to have migrated approximately 500 feet south, southeast from the former Mosquito Control site proper impacting the City of Pensacola’s Corrine Jones Park property located at 600 West Government Street.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has required the contaminated water must be removed and treated. Since the source of the pollution was the county-owned facility, the City asked the BCC to pay for the remediation as part of its FDEP plan.

Commissioner Doug Underhill expressed concern that the county funds were being used on city-owned property without any assurance that those dollars may be needed to complete work on the mosquito control site.

Chips Kirschenfeld, the county’s senior scientist, explained, “In my opinion, spending that money now is going to speed up the decontamination and remediation that has been going on for years.”

Without the remediation at the Corrine Jones site, he estimated the remediation could continue for another 10 years. With it, the cleanup may be completed in two years. See plume.

Commissioner Grover Robinson argued that it would less expensive to remove the plume downhill from the mosquito control site at Corrine Jones than trying to pump it out of the ground at Romana Street.

“I don’t see a plan. I don’t see a map with the plume. I don’t see the backup documentation necessary to make this expenditure,” said Underhill. He said he expects to see a plan of action and milestones for the completion of the overall remediation project.

The BCC agreed to discuss the item at its June 16 meeting. County staff will present documentation and analysis more aligned with Commissioner Underhill’s expectations.