News

Thursday, March 15, 2018

What Lies Beneath South Patrick Shores?




Evidence of Military Debris in South Patrick Shores


South Patrick Shores is a beachside community situated on the east coast of Florida where many come to invest in their dream home. Yet, there's an unexplainable legacy looming over this neighborhood. Every decade for the past fifty years residents reawaken the discussion of military debris buried underneath their homes. 

Patrick Air Force Base boarders the South Patrick Shores neighborhood and has 21 active sites where military cleanup actions are still ongoing. 

It's no surprise that the military produces dangerous waste whether its ammunition components, unexploded ordinance or paints and thinners. The first reports of debris in South Patrick Shores was by workers in the 1950s who discovered vehicular batteries and barrels. Residents throughout the years believe that past dumping operations were carried out prior to homes being built. There are archived newspapers indicating that landfills date back to the 1940s and leaked contaminants.

In 1992 Patrick AFB set to clean up the toxic dump near the Banana River. There were 30 toxic waste dumps at Patrick Air Force Base and nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with contaminated soil and ground water. Hazardous chemicals were tossed into landfills from World War II through the early 1980's. 



History of Military Dumping


Congress in 1980 recognized the dangers of burying hazardous waste, and federal officials identified 54 toxic dump sites in Florida. When these hazardous materials leech into the groundwater they can cause environmental damage and can contaminate drinking water. They can also kill vegetation, cause erosion on the property, groundwater can be poisoned and gasses can seep into homes.

In the early 1970s the U.S. Air Force closed landfills by covering waste with a soil layer ranging from 1 to 12 feet deep. No other control measures (e.g., liners or impermeable caps) were installed when the landfills were closed, leaving the hazardous materials in the land-fills available to migrate from the site. Open dump sites with no liners is considered a challenging issue in groundwater protection.

After WWII the use of toxic chemicals is suspected to contaminate water on bases and nearby communities with chemicals ranging from cleaning solvents, explosives and firefighting foam. Some of the health issues vary from cancers, asthma, colon and digestive disorders, stillbirths, miscarriages, headaches and nose bleeds.


Dog tag found buried in South Patrick Shores backyard. 

Mortar found in a Satellite Beach back yard while digging to put in a new pool.

Bullets are found at the surface of many South Patrick Shores yards.
Old glass bottles dug up in a South Patrick Shore residents backyard. The resident explained that they continuously find bottles, military tags, bullets and other metal items when gardening.
Items dug up in South Patrick Shore residents back yard. Discarded contents from bullets, burnt silverware that look as if they were doused with fuel and lit on fire. Could the burning waste be rich in lead, mercury, chromium or other compounds? 
Old photography paper
Wires and a metal container dug up in a South Patrick Shores yard in 2018 
More uncovered in a yard in South Patrick Shores



Hazardous Waste Violations


The military is one of the country's largest polluters. Patrick Air Force Base has been inspected many times dating back to 1986 by the FDEP.  On July 15 and 16, 2014 the facility was out of compliance with violations including: failure to properly identify hazardous wastes, exceeding limit of stored hazardous waste, failure to properly label containers, improper storage of hazardous waste that exceeded toxicity limits for cadmium, management of hazardous waste without a permit and disposal of toxic warfarin trash to a local landfill. When FDEP inspectors went the facility to conduct an inspection on July 22, 2015 the Base would not allow the inspectors to access the grounds. This matter was closed without formal enforcement according to the notes in the following inspection in September. [2]




Click this Newspaper to read this May 1995 article





An Issue of Multiple Contamination


In 1980, the Department of Defense acknowledged its pollution issues at many bases in the United States. However, Florida's Department of Environmental Protection was finding more serious problems like carcinogenic pesticide leaching in the local waters. 

Patrick's toxic dumps have been under scrutiny ever since the abnormal rate of Hodgkins Disease first made headlines in the 90's. In November of 1991 the EPA conducted soil and groundwater sampling in South Patrick Shores and detected elevated levels of lead and aluminum. The aluminum levels in one well were 2000-3000 times greater than levels detected in all other wells.  There was one sample from a well in 1991 that exceeded health criteria.  It showed PCBs, metals, pesticides and volatile organic compounds.  State and federal experts told papers that the South Patrick Shores neighborhood was built over an old military dump, but tests showed no toxins present in the soil or water under homes. 


August of 2018 Florida Health Connection now known as Fight For Zero used a metal detector at a home in South Patrick Shores. Orange marking paint was outlined all over the half-acre lot, identifying other items believed to be buried. 

The red outline is a historical trench and the red dots show where reported military artifacts were found. 


Prevent Future Environmental Tragedy?


In the 90's the community of about 3,000 residents had a total of 11 cases of Hodgkin's Lymphoma and an additional 16 cases on the base, totaling 27 cases of cancer. Statistically, two cases of Hodgkin's disease could have been expected in the area.

Two decades later and the neighborhood is still facing a mysteriously high incident of illness. Public awareness resurfaced in 2018 after a March report by the Pentagon publicly listed Patrick AFB as one of the bases who tested positive for per fluorinated compounds, also known as PFOA and PFOS.


A grassroots door-to-door crowdsourcing effort started through Fight For Zero and began to reveal a series of inexplicable illnesses - ALS, asthma in children, thyroid, miscarriages and an abundance of cancer cases in the area.  

As similar incidences became more prevalent in neighboring cities such as Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach this anomaly seems to have spread. So far, 54 graduates from Satellite High School in the last decade are documented to be diagnosed with rare cancers. Generations continue to feel the effects of the mystery that started as Hodgkin's Disease in South Patrick Shores.

Worried about human health and an environmental tragedy residents and activists continue to push for answers. In November 2018 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency vowed to reassess South Patrick Shores but decades of delay in addressing these issues leaves communities feeling frustrated.  The issue is the complexity, problem of accountability, and those reluctant to tackle this sensitive problem. 

The question remains if the local population faces health risks or if history is continually repeating itself with a simple coincidence of unburied debris and illnesses.  

Heat map shows cancer cases
Uniformed personal come from Patrick AFB in the middle of the night to box and take away a munition dug up in a South Patrick Shores residents back yard.
Uniformed personal leaving a South Patrick Shores residents back yard with a munition in a box.


Update: August 24, 2019 South Patrick Shores Approved for Federal Cleanup Program 

Naval Air Station Banana River Off-Base Disposal Area: https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll7/id/12612

After decades of uncovering buried military debris in South Patrick Shores (called Banana River Naval Air Station until 1950) boarding Patrick Air Force Base, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has decided to designate an area as a part of their Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) program, putting the area in line for a federal environmental cleanup, if Congress funds it.

The military is further assessing the waste buried just south of Patrick Air Force Base. If approved, the Corps will begin a remedial investigation. 




Patrick Air Force Base

  1. February 12, 1988: Patrick Air Force Base Superfund Site
  2. July 14, 1991 Florida Today: Hodgkin's Disease Strikes 6 Times in Neighborhood
  3. August 4, 1991 Sun Sentinel: Hazardous Waste Disposal Plan Buried in Florida
  4. February 3, 1992 Orlando Sentinel: Military Protected, Poisoned Florida
  5. March 8, 1992 Florida Health Department: South Patrick Shores Health Consultation
  6. March 26, 1992 Orlando Sentinel: Patrick set to clean up toxic dump 
  7. February 2, 2005: DOD Facilities on the RCRA GPRA Cleanup Baseline
  8. July 19, 2016: Patrick Air Force Base Penalty Payment 
  9. March 1, 2019 Florida Today: EPA tests soil in South Patrick Shores
  10. March 14, 2019 Vero News: Concerned resident's request EPA tests for contaminants

Buried Toxic Waste Research:

  1. ProPublica: 21 Active Military Cleanup Sites 
  2. DOD Restoration Program: Defense Environmental Restoration Program 
  3. FUDS Interactive Map: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  4. The National Academies Press: Deep Buried of Toxic Wastes
  5. Soils.org: What are Soil Contaminates?
  6. EPA: Federal Agency Hazardous Waste Compliance Docket
  7. EPA: National Biennial RCRA Hazardous Waste Report: Based on 2003 Data

Other Documented Toxic Waste:

  1. The Buffalo News: Are Love Canal chemicals still making people sick?
  2. Washington IAN: The Toxic Waste Pit Next Door
  3. www.cbrneportal: The disposal of nuclear waste into the world's oceans 

Most Recent Updates:

Naval Air Station Banana River Off-Base Disposal Area: Formerly Used Defense Site Banana River 

www.fight4zero.org / team@fight4zero.org / Mapping by D.P. Braden / Photography by D.P. Braden & Stel Bailey 

2 comments:

  1. Please be sure that my Father, one of my brothers, and myself all lived in South Patrick Shores and were all diagnosed with cancers are included in your count. We lived at 104 Arlington St.between 1973 and 1988.
    Please keep me informed of upcoming findings and related news.
    Lori S. Veber

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry to hear that your family went through the unimaginable with one diagnosis after another. Here is the latest news on South Patrick Shores (a FUDS designation): https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2019/09/16/south-patrick-shores-formerly-used-defense-site-designation

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