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Tampa Golf Course Neighbors Protest Fumigation

Protestors outside the Tampa Sports Authority's headquarters at Raymond James Stadium
Steve Newborn
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A handful of residents living near the Tampa Sports Authority's Babe Zaharias golf course are protestingthe application of the fumigant "Curfew," which is set for Tuesday, May 9. They say the insecticide, which is being used to control nematodes, can be harmful to people and animals. 

It's injected below the turf and becomes a gas that rises. The manufacturer's label calls for a 30-foot buffer zone. But Kevin Murdock, who lives alongside the Forest Hills golf course, said winds will likely spread the fumes.

"It's highly probable that's going to go much further than 30 feet, end up in people's houses," he said. "Many of these houses are older, so they're not weather tight. We're worried about sleeping in these houses at night, with these toxic fumes floating around."

The federal EPA lists Curfew's active ingredient as a "probable carcinogen," meaning it's likely to cause harm if inhaled. The active ingredient in Curfew, a soil fumigant, is 1,3-dichloropropene. Curfew's warning label says its vapors can cause kidney, lung and liver damage and death if inhaled.

Curfew's active ingredient has been sold for use on farms since 1975. Dow won approval to sell Curfew for use on golf courses and sports fields in Florida in 2001. At the time, the label required a 100-foot buffer from homes and other occupied buildings. Last year, Dow asked for and received approval from the Florida Department of Agriculture to reduce the buffer zone to 30 feet.

The Tampa Sports Authority released a statement saying that when Curfew is applied in accordance with the label, it should not “pose any unreasonable risks to human safety or the environment."

The "sample canister" that will be placed on the golf course
Credit Tampa Sports Authority photo
The Florida Channel
The "sample canister" that will be placed on the golf course

They say the Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission will "take a sample canister of the air and report back the results, if requested."

Here's a statement from the authority:

Curfew, a registered product approved for use throughout the State of Florida by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA). It will be applied by a FDACS’ licensed applicator at Babe Zaharias Golf Course on May 9, 2017.

According to the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission presention Thursday at Tampa City Council, FDACS states that when Curfew is applied in accordance with the label, by an FDACS’ licensed applicator, it should not “pose any unreasonable risks to human safety or the environment.” The Tampa Sports Authority has managed Babe Zaharias Golf Course since 1974 and has always strived to make it one of the top courses in the Tampa Bay area. As has always been our practice, we will continue to communicate with the Neighborhood Association, as we proudly manage this community asset.


Copyright 2017 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.