Tens of thousands of radiation samples from Polk subdivisions not relevant

8 On Your Side

Hand held DOH detectors shielded out the radiation the state was looking for

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA)- What happens to the thousands of acres of land mined by phosphate companies?

Some become popular golf courses, The Poseidon mine in Polk County now holds thousands of homes in the Grasslands and Oakbridge communities.

The Florida Department of Health is required to take radiation samples at post-mined and reclaimed mines, each year and issue a report.

8 on Your Side obtained a videotaped deposition in which DOH’s Environmental Administrator John Williamson admits, that just doesn’t happen.

“We’re supposed to, yes. We have not issued a report in about five years,” Williamson said under oath.

A lawsuit contends radiation levels in Oakbridge and Grasslands pose health hazards to people living there.

People got scared and DOH tested for radiation.

John Williamson testified DOH used a sensitive detector, took thousands of samples from the back of a van, and deemed all was well.

Until he admitted the 40,000 samples had no relevance to the levels of radiation in peoples’ yards or in their homes because the van sat on the pavement, which shields radiation levels.

According to Williamson, the really accurate measurement in those Polk County homes, came from handheld detectors his inspectors used.

Attorney Mark Lanier, who is heading up the litigation, contends the state used the wrong detectors.

“This is the classic monkey illustration of see no evil, don’t have the right detection equipment, hear no evil don’t listen to the lawsuit, speak no evil, don’t tell everybody what they know about the site,” Lanier said.

Lanier added he doubts the state had the best interest of the people in mind when it stopped producing those reports that show the levels of cancer-causing radiation.

If you know of something that you think should be investigated call our 8 On Your Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.

Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com

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