S. PATRICK SHORES, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - While lots of us were barbecuing in the backyard for the Fourth, one woman was hunting for toxins on her property. She may have found them.
In the community of South Patrick Shores, people are terrified and ticked off. They think they’re getting sick from the military debris in the soil. Folks here contend there are abnormally high rates of cancer because their homes were built on a military dumping site, so they’re digging for answers and to turn the heat up on the feds.
The Health Department conducted an investigation and found that the area is “not a cancer cluster,” even though some cancer rates are abnormal in three zip codes. Sandra Sullivan is one of the most outspoken residents of South Patrick Shores, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to disclose all the facts, then clean up the area near Patrick Air Force Base.
Sullivan is raising three kids, and she just found something no mother would ever want to find just beyond the garden.
“I was exceedingly upset, I couldn’t sleep that night,” Sullivan said.
One hole (of many) in her backyard was dug last summer by federal investigators. Sullivan never covered it, and almost a year to the day, she decided to dig a little deeper, because she says the EPA hasn't done anything. In her eyes, the investigation seems dead in the water. She hopes her latest discovery -- a barrel, part of a truck and the rest of the mangled metal -- will re-ignite the case.
“ I would hope so, that it does, but at the same time, it seems like there’s a lot of pressure to just have this go away,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan's neighbors want action too. Randal Agostini says the EPA should declare South Patrick Shores a Superfund site.
“It’s been going on for a number of years and there’s really no satisfaction at all,” Agostini said.
As a mother, Sullivan has equal parts fear and frustration. If she digs further down, what will she find? To date, the barrel is the most startling evidence, but what if there're more barrels?
“I’ve been told it’s a taboo subject, not to bring up,” Sullivan said.
The EPA says their investigation continues, and they will gather more samples later this summer.