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To ensure the protection of both the environment as well as the health and safety of area residents, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is committed to ensuring a complete clean up of the groundwater contamination near the Azalea neighborhood in St. Petersburg to state standards. As the cleanup process moves forward, DEP will continue to provide accurate and timely information to the citizens affected by this contamination. Below is a set of Frequently Asked Questions that we hope will help explain the situation to date.

  • Who should I contact to have my irrigation well sampled?
    Please contact Mr. Robert Luhrs at Raytheon as he has been working directly with citizens to determine if your well falls within the area of concern. You may e-mail your request directly to Mr. Luhrs at Robert_C_Luhrs@raytheon.com

       

  • If DEP has requested that a homeowner temporarily stop using their irrigation well, who will pay for the additional cost to use city water to irrigate?
    Raytheon is working with the City of St. Petersburg to help offset the cost of any plumbing work that may need to be done as well as covering the cost of higher water bills. Raytheon has committed to addressing those additional costs for owners with contaminated wells. Please make contact with Raytheon or the City of St. Petersburg if you have any additional questions or concerns.

       

  • What is the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s role?
    DEP is required to oversee Raytheon’s efforts to complete the required work to fully clean up the contaminated area. On May 30, 2008, Raytheon submitted its Site Assessment Report to DEP, which addresses the groundwater contamination located around its St. Petersburg facility.  DEP requested additional information and on August 29, 2008 Raytheon submitted a Site Assessment Report Addendum.
  • The report detailed how far and how deep any contaminated groundwater has traveled from the Raytheon site. DEP's professional geologists and engineers reviewed the report and approved Raytheon’s Site Assessment Report Addendum on January 29, 2009.

    Raytheon then submitted its Remedial Action Plan (RAP) to DEP on April 29, 2009.  The RAP proposes how the company plans to clean up the contaminants of concern.  On August 28, 2009, DEP requested additional information.  Raytheon responded with a Remedial Action Plan Addendum on February 25, 2010.  

    DEP expedited the review of Raytheon's revised proposed cleanup plan to determine if it meets Florida’s waste cleanup rules, and if the proposal will successfully clean up the contamination to protect public health and the environment. On May 26, 2011, DEP issued Raytheon's Remedial Action Plan Approval Order.


  • What caused the initial contamination and has that source been addressed?
    Historical waste management practices at the facility, including an on-site waste sludge pit, have been identified as possible sources for the initial contamination. E-Systems (the original property owner) also discovered a leaky 500 gallon petroleum storage tank. The company removed that tank on September 30, 1994.
     


  • What prior assessment and cleanup have been completed since the first identified contamination?
    Within months of E-Systems notifying DEP that soil and groundwater pollution existed at the site, as a result of the waste management practices, the company identified the areas of impacted soil and began removing more than 100 tons of the contaminated soil in 1992 and 1994. Following the soil removal, E-Systems began groundwater monitoring and began formulating a plan for further cleanup.

    To ensure containment of the contamination, DEP required semi-annual groundwater monitoring to allow any change in the contaminated area to be identified. The initial area of groundwater contamination identified in 1998 was stable until 2005. In 2005, the groundwater monitoring data confirmed that the polluted groundwater was beginning to move away from the site. From 2005 until 2008, DEP required Raytheon to install a series of additional monitoring wells to reassess where the polluted groundwater was traveling and to revise the mapping of the contaminated area.

    On November 17, 2008, DEP approved Raytheon's Interim Source Removal (ISR) proposal for groundwater treatment at the Raytheon site, which involves a pump-and-treat system.  This pump-and-treat system is designed to reduce the potential for off-property migration of groundwater containing the highest concentrations of chemicals of concern. The pump-and-treat system has already recovered, cleaned and disposed of approximately 28 million gallons of contaminated groundwater.

    DEP issued Raytheon's Remedial Action Plan Approval Order on May 26, 2011. The Approval Order allows Raytheon to initiate a comprehensive cleanup of the contaminants of concern around Raytheon's St. Petersburg facility to state standards.

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  • Why does it take such a long time to clean up the contamination ?
    It is critical to first fully determine what contaminants are discovered in the groundwater, where those contaminants are being found, and at what concentrations, so that a company can formulate a cleanup plan that will be the most effective and meet all state regulations. It is DEP’s role to ensure that the work performed will protect the environment as well as the health and safety of the people in the area.

    Because Florida’s water quality standards are among the most protective in the nation, completing a successful assessment and cleanup can take time. Also, different factors can cause complications, such as:
    • Evolving data and technology to treat contaminants such as 1,4- dioxane
    • Multiple contaminants involved, including 1,4- dioxane
    • Developing laboratory test methods to identify 1,4-dioxane at lower concentrations

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  • What effect is this pollution having on our drinking water and the water used from irrigation wells?
    • Drinking Water: Everyone in the area of concern has a safe source of drinking water provided by the City of St. Petersburg, so your drinking water is not considered to be an issue in this case. DEP continues to conduct drinking water well surveys to ensure that no new wells have been constructed. DEP’s waste cleanup rules consider drinking water to be the main potential “pathway of exposure” to residents. We will continue to evaluate drinking water supplies to ensure everyone continues to have a safe supply of drinking water.


    • Irrigation Wells: DEP is working with the Florida Department of Health (DOH), as well as other health experts, to address any potential risk factors from the use of irrigation wells. Three separate and independent risk evaluations have been conducted regarding impacted groundwater being used in various irrigation scenarios. Please note that the risk levels in Florida are more protective than many federal levels and those found in most other state’s rules. Raytheon, the Department, and the Florida Department of Health have studied the irrigation water data to date and have found no health concerns at this time associated with the use of this water for typical irrigation purposes, including recreational activities. The Florida Department of Health also plans to conduct indoor air quality testing to rule out any exposure risk from indoor air. Outdoor air sampling has not shown any risk issues.

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  • What public notification has taken place to date and will the state notify any other residents of this groundwater pollution?
    • In 2005, DEP provided notice to property owners with known contamination on their property at that time. These notices were sent to Pinellas County, the City of St. Petersburg, Stone’s Throw Condominiums, and the Brandywine Apartments.
    • In 2007 and 2008, Raytheon expanded its sampling into the areas south and west of the plant facility, primarily on public property. From October 2007 through March 2008, DEP sent 17 additional notice letters to impacted property owners.
    • Based on ongoing private well testing for the May 30 submittal to DEP, on April 28, 2008, Raytheon provided notice that sampling data had shown that six private irrigation wells had elevated levels of contamination. On April 29, 2008, DEP staff hand delivered notices to those well owners.
    • State law requires that notice be provided to property owners where well or soil tests confirm contamination exists. As of May 30, 2008, Raytheon had provided notice of contamination to 13 property owners whose irrigation wells were sampled and the results showed the presence of one or more of the contaminants above the state’s acceptable standards.
    • Once Raytheon provided the contaminant plume map in its May 30 report, DEP notified all property owners within that plume of the groundwater contamination in their area and hosted a community meeting on July 9th, 2008 at the Pasadena Community Church in St. Petersburg.
    • In October 2010, Raytheon initiated the required Temporary Point of Compliance (TPOC) notification. It was published and also sent by certified mail to the 377 property owners within the aerial extent of the plume. The notice provided a 30 day comment period on the TPOC. Raytheon submitted its TPOC report to the DEP on January 26, 2011 demonstrating that the statutory 30-day comment period expired for the TPOC notice.

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  • What effect could this contaminated groundwater have on Boca Ciega Bay?
    The Department is requiring Raytheon to investigate the drainage creek to the west of the facility which eventually leads to Boca Ciega Bay. The contaminant 1,4-dioxane has been shown to be present in this surface water body. Raytheon identified potential pathways from its facility to the water body. The state’s Surface Water standard for 1,4-dioxane is different from the groundwater standard and allows for a greater concentration of the contaminant. To date, sampling in the creek has not shown exceedences of the state’s Surface Water standard for either the creek or the Bay. In addition, Raytheon must compare the levels of contamination found during the plume assessment to the state’s marine and surface water criteria and perform any work needed to clean up any impacted water body. At this time, there is no indication that any impacted groundwater has or will ever reach Boca Ciega Bay.

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Last updated: June 11, 2013

 
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