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Leaders optimistic about speculative bldg.

Environmental officials believe the speculative building inBrookhaven’s industrial park may be habitable despite somemeasurable contamination remaining at the nearby former Escambiawood treatment facility site.

County and city officials are attempting to schedule a meetingwith representatives from the state Department of EnvironmentalQuality and the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss theresults of two recent rounds of testing at the site.

Cliff Brumfield, executive director of the Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce, met with county supervisors Monday tobrief them on the site. The testing report was released recently,but Brumfield admitted officials would like more clarification onits findings.

A few years ago, following Escambia’s closure, dioxins werefound in the soil of the site and “rendered the (speculative)building all but unmarketable because of the cost of the cleanup,”Brumfield said.

Dioxins form a family of toxic chlorinated organic that canaccumulate in humans and wildlife. Excessive exposure to dioxinscan be lethal or may cause a severe form of persistent acne, knownas chloracne. Smaller doses can cause developmental abnormalitiesin the enamel of children’s teeth, damage to immune systems, birthdefects, diabetes and, at least in laboratory animals, increasedrates of liver and lung cancer.

It appears now, Brumfield said, that most of the contaminationis limited to the northwestern corner of the site in an area thatis not visible from the road or the speculative building on thegrounds of the former treatment facility.

The report indicates that contamination in other areas wasairborne and has disappeared over time, Brumfield said.

However, the report also indicates there are some measuresofficials must take before environmental officials will allow thespeculative building to be occupied, he said. Among them is asystem to handle runoff water and trees planted as a windscreenbehind the facility.

“We’re closer to the building being usable, but there still somethings they want done,” Brumfield said.

The 50,000-square foot speculative building was built in 1995with 3,500 square feet of office space on a five-acre site in theindustrial park.

The city and county spent approximately $200,000 each to fundthe building as an economic development opportunity to draw inprospective industries, said Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop, whofirst established the speculative building while serving asexecutive director of the chamber.

The discovery of dioxins deep in the soil leeching onto theproperty from the Escambia site after the building was completedinitially eliminated the possibility of its being used as apotential site of incoming industries, Bishop said.

Escambia owner Nelson Case settled for $85,000 with the EPA inDecember 2002 to reimburse the agency for its immediate actions atthe site, said Paula Batchelor, a representative for the EPA in theregional office in Atlanta.