Bithlo dump still not cleaned despite hazard

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

This month marks 20 years since Orange County officials declared a dump in Bithlo a hazard, and residents are upset because the dump still hasn't been cleaned.

Despite being hit with $1 million in fines, the dump still hasn't been cleaned up.
WFTV's Mark Joyella found out many residents feel the county is dragging its feet because of where the dump is located.

Orange County first called for a cleanup of the abandoned dump when Naomi Walters was just 4 years old. Now she's 24. She said in any other neighborhood it wouldn't take most of her life to get something done.

"They would've cleaned it up. But it's Bithlo. Nobody really cares about it, unfortunately," said Walters.

A series of owners has been hit with $250 a day fines. But no cleanup has started, and the fine, now towering at $1.8 million, has never been collected by the county.

"It's only funny money. They don't want to enforce that lien because the county does not want to assume liability for contaminated property, and probably contaminated drinking water," said Bithlo activist Tim McKinney.

A map drawn by a former dump employee for a court case shows what's inside the dump, including asbestos, ink, fiberglass, gas and diesel, spilled paint, asphalt, batteries and black ooze seeping from a tank into a ditch.

The county told WFTV on Monday a new effort is now under way on a $75,000 cleanup, including "conducting brownfields site rehabilitation of the property to remove recyclable material, remediate any contamination on the site and bring the property back to its highest and best use."

Walters wonders how old she'll be when and if anything really happens.

Activists in the community have invited Florida Gov. Rick Scott to tour the dump site in the hopes of creating a statewide coalition committed to action.