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Toxic Sludge From Fort Myers Headed To Bartow Landfill

Several people voiced concern Tuesday about 30,000 tons of toxic sludge from Fort Myers that will be dumped in a Polk County landfill. But there's nothing county officials can do about it.

The concerns were raised at a Polk County Commission meeting, when several residents said a private landfill in Bartow shouldn't be accepting sludge laced with toxic arsenic. The company has tried unsuccessfully to get rid of the sludge in several other landfills, including one in Citrus County.

Several residents said they didn't know what the chemical combinations are going to do in the future.

But experts with the state Department of Environmental Protection said at the meeting that the arsenic levels are not hazardous. They said the only landfill permitted to accept the sludge in the Fort Myers area is too small. And since the Bartow landfill is in the city limits, Polk County officials can't do much about it, anyway.

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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.