6-B THE TAMPA TRIBUNE, Thursday, November 13, 1986
Preliminary surveys begin today
to test area's well water quality
By J.D. CALLAWAY
Tribune Staff Writer
Federal environmental officials are planning to
scout the Brandon area today and Friday in preparation
for a comprehensive test of residents' drinking water in
"We'll be looking over the area and talking with the
local authorities," said Greg Powell of the U.S. Environ.
mental Protection Agency.
EPA Intends to sample and analyze hundreds of pri-
vate drinking water wells in the area using a mobile
laboratory, Powell said.
Federal officials are concerned that a variety of
dumps and landfills in the Brandon vicinity could be
contaminating underground water supplies.
"The purpose of this project is to determine if there
Is a significant contamination problem. If so, then we
need to evaluate the health risk to the residents," said
Powell, a project manager In EPA's Atlanta office.
EPA will be testing wells within the following area:
Joe Ebert Road on the north, State Road 60 on the south,
Kingsway Road on the east and US. Highway 301 on the
.A move to provide residents with alternative sources
of water, such as bottled water, would occur "under the
worst case scenario," he said.
A consultant hired by EPA in June identified at least
14 potential sources of ground water contamination that
could threaten the drinking water of tens of thousands of
The contamination sources range from Hillsborough
County's abandoned Taylor Road landfill in Seffner a
federal Superfund hazardous waste site to a sinkhole
packed with garbage and debris.
Cam Oberting, of Seffner, a dauntless critic of the
county's landfills, said area residents for years have
complained of polluted water.
"The whole area is contaminated. We're getting the
problems from all over because we're surrounded by
dumps. Testing is long overdue," said Oberting, who
lives less than one mile from the Taylor Road-Hillsbor-
ough Heights landfills on County Road 579.
Oberting said regardless of what the EPA tests con-
clude, "The proof is in the pudding. Those of us who use
the well water know there is a problem. It's scary be-
cause no one really knows what's underneath us."
To assess the problem, a team of environmental spe-
cialists from an EPA office in New Jersey will travel to
Brandon this week to acquaint themselves with the area
and Inspect the various pollution sources, Powell said.
The mobile testing laboratory is scheduled to begin
analyzing water samples the first week of December.
The testing project will last about three weeks, Powell
said, and is being funded through the Superfund pro-
gram for hazardous waste sites.
"The lab can give us results in one to two days at the
most, so we'll know right away if we have a contamina-
tion problem," he said, adding that the cost of the proj-
ect has not been determined.
EPA also will be identifying places to locate the labo-
ratory during this week's visit.
"Once we figure out where we'll put the lab, then we
will go doorto-door and explain to the residents in that
area what we're doing," Powell said.
"There are so many houses in the area (at least
10,500 residences), we figured going door-to-door is the
best way to do it," he added.
County Utilities Director Michael McWeeny, whose
department operates several public wells In the area
with some 6,000 hookups, said he was awaiting tests re-
suits from the EPA.