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Macclenny residents scared of wasterwater "sludge"

10:27 PM, Jul 10, 2012   |    comments
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MACCLENNY, Fla. -- The city calls it sludge.

Macclenny residents call it a problem.

The city is moving forward with plans to dump wastewater sludge in an area off Steel Bridge Road, whose residents are concerned about the safety of living next to sewage.

"I mean everybody's scared to death about it," explained Landen Sigers.

Residents in Macclenny are pushing back against the city's half-million dollar plan to dump sewage wastewater sludge in a wooded area off Steel Bridge Road.

"People flush their toilets and we have to treat the waste," said Frank Darabi, the city of Macclenny's engineering consultant."And there is a residual from that waste that needs to be applied to land."

But Sigers and other families who live behind the 100-plus acres of pine forest feel their concerns aren't being heard.

"Our actual wells are 150 feet from the creek and I mean with the runoff and the contamination and everything," Sigers said.

Darabi said the system of spraying mostly liquid sludge over designated areas won't produce an odor, runoff, or contamination.

"It will have no effect on the river," Darabi said. "If it's going to run off to the river we have done something terribly wrong."

At a meeting Tuesday, city commissioners listened to citizens concerns once again but ultimately decided to move forward with the plan.

"Nobody wants to deal with it unfortunately somebody has to be next to it," Darabi explained. "We don't chose that but that's how society works."

Steel Bridge residents are now planning for their futures with sludge.

In Sigers' case, it may mean leaving the property his family has owned for generations.

"My dream home," he described. "But if [the sludge is] there, I'm going to sell it."

First Coast News

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