Gainesville’s Dirty Secret: Exposed

Posted by Trish Riley, May 27, 2010

Photo (c) 2010 by Henry Taksier

There’s more to Gainesville than meets the eye. For 93 years, a company known as Koppers, Inc. has operated a 90-acre industrial facility at 200 NW 23rd Ave. in Gainesville, Florida. The area is now ranked as one of the nation’s top-100 polluted sites. In 1983, it was declared by Environmental Protection Agency to be a Superfund site – a place so heavily polluted with toxic waste that it poses a threat to human health and the environment.

For decades, Koppers has released industrial toxins into Gainesville’s air, water and soil, including arsenic, hexavalent chromium, creosote and dioxins. Combined, these chemicals can cause cancer, rare diseases, changes in DNA and birth defects.

If you live in Gainesville and find these facts to be disconcerting, you’re not alone. As a reporter for The Fine Print, I’ve spent the last month interviewing activists, victimized families, government officials, engineers, lawyers, and company representatives. I can say the following with certainty: our water supply is in danger. Our neighborhoods are contaminated. Residents living nearby feel trapped and confused. Even if you live far away, you might be affected. Even if you’re not affected, Gainesville could use your help.

Read the full story and learn more at Gainesville’s Dirty Secret: Exposed. All photos and reporting on the site are (c) 2010 by Henry Taksier.