EPA Settlement Reviewed
By Karen Glaub
Tuesday, Oct.8, 2010, our city officials signed an agreement worked out by Dr. Riviere with the EPA and Quality Enterprises to settle the charges the EPA brought against them for mishandling asbestos contaminated material from the Collier Blvd reconstruction project. While many of us are glad that the agreement was made which kept the Marco Island taxpayers from having to pay any fines, we must look with open eyes at the whole picture.
There has been a large amount of money expended from our city coffers for legal fees to Lewis Longman & Walker, and for cleanup of site C more than once, because former City Manager Bill Moss said the city staff asked Quality Enterprises to put the concrete pipes there to hold down a mulch pile, which somehow mysteriously became crushed into fragments. Also we have never seen an accounting of the city's landfill account which could have been involved in disposal of the loads of a/c soil brought there. It is a costly process to dispose of hazardous materials. Time and time again we were told by Mr. Moss that the costs of the cleanup would be paid by Quality Enterprises. Indeed the CARES settlement required that the contractor would reimburse the city for all expenses connected with the remediation of the asbestos contamination of the three parcels that make up the park, and for any remediation of asbestos contamination needed now and in the future for any part of Collier Boulevard. Did it happen?
This latest agreement which is available for viewing on the website www.marcoislandblog.blogspot.com, also tells us that no wrongdoing is admitted by any party and both Quality Enterprises and the City of Marco Island are absolved from further liability. This indicates that no payments will be forthcoming from Quality Enterprises for the expenses the city paid to the law firm Lewis Longman & Walker, or for further cleanup of the Veterans Park site should any more fragments surface in the future. The site has been blessed by the EPA as clean and hopefully it is, for the sake of future generations.
The mishandling of the asbestos contaminated pipe which was pulled up from underneath Collier Blvd during the reconstruction of that street, was only brought to light by former resident Ed Foster, and CARES, a citizens action group. For what they did, they were attacked and vilified by some who did not want to know the truth, but, in reality, if not for their brave actions, the mishandling would have gone on for much longer and proper disposal of it would never have taken place at all, and so we all owe these people a loud thank you for what they did.
The public officials that allowed this to happen in our midst, were careless in their discharge of their duties and were never punished so we can only hope it was an educational event that they learned something from. We hope they will be more careful in their selection of the contractors and vendors our city does business with and will put the health and safety of the residents above all else. Perhaps our City Council will remember this event and be vigilant going forward, but residents must also pay attention and take action when necessary, so nothing like this ever happens again.