EPA fears water
in Brandon wells
a health threat
A government study
identified 14 dump
sites in Hillsborough
as likely contributors
to ground water
By J.D. CALLAWAY
Tribune Staff Writer
Contaminated ground water that
feeds public and private wells in the
Brandon area could be threatening
the health of thousands of residents
there, according to the U.S. Environ-
mental Protection Agency.
"We can't say that it's an Im-
mediate threat to public health be-
cause we just don't know enough yet.
But the possibility does exist," said
Greg Powell, of EPA's Region IV of-
fice in Atlanta.
EPA plans to bring in a mobile
laboratory and test hundreds of
drinking water wells In the study
area. Powell said. They hope to get
under way by the end of this year.
EPA officials are awaiting the alt
location of nearly $9 billion in Super-
fund money recently authorized by
Congress and President Reagan be-
fore starting the testing project, he
"There is no reason for the pub-
lic to get hysterical. We need to do
the well screening and get more
facts We have to get a grasp on this
situation." said Powell. an EPA proj-
The contamination problem was
revealed in a draft of a confidential
report released last week to Hills-
brough County officials.
Responding to reports of polluted
wells at the county's abandoned
Hilisborough Heights landfill in Self-
ner. EPA in June began surveying
additional sources of contamination
in the vicinity, said Powell.
The study, completed in Septem-
ber, Identified 13 other sites In-
cluding the Taylor Road dump. a
federal Superfund site that might
be contributing to the ground water
An EPA consultant surveyed
dump sites in an area bounded by
Joe Ebert Road to the north. State
Road 60 to the south, Kingsway
Road on the east and U.S. Highway
301 on the west.
The report described the sites,
ranging from a used battery dump to
a sinkhole filled with trash, and
their potential for contamination.
The EPA's consultant for the
study. Camp Dresser & McKee,
noted that other landfills and Illegal
dumps that skirt the Hillsborough
Heights-Taylor Road sites could be
leaching contamination into the
aquifer through a network of drain-
age ditches and sinkholes.
The sinkholes, thin underground
clays and well pumping can cause
wide variations in the normal north-
east to southwest flow of the Flor-
idan aquifer, according to the con-
The consultant also Identified
potential sources of lead contamina-
tion at an abandoned county landfill
on Eureka Springs Road and a for-
mer battery disposal dump in north-
However, the extent of contami-
nation in the other areas Is not
known and needs to be Investigated,
the consultant reported.
The study area contains 10.500
residences and a population esti-
mated at 27.200. according to the re-
port. known as a Forward Planning
See WATER. Page 6B
* From Page IB
County wells pump an average of 2.3 million gallons
of water daily to the 6.000 utility hookups in the area.
The Taylor Road dump, north of Interstate 4. is a
known source of contamination in the Floridan aquifer,
the county's primary source of drinking water.
Unhealthy levels of volatile organic compounds.
such as gasoline and industrial solvents, and a federal
lawsuit prompted the county in 1984 to install water
lines to 400 homes with wells near the dump.
According to the consultant, the sources of contami-
nation are creating "a long-term exposure risk" tsi-
dents in the area.
Powell said EPA is concerned with effects of low
levels of pollutants in the drinking water that "you car.'t
smell or taste. It's the long-term exposure there."