As a Panama City injury law firm, we believe in protecting our community. This commitment includes working for people impacted by public safety hazards that threaten the health and well-being of our fellow Bay County residents.
A report by WMBB's News 13 calls attention to a situation that poses much more than just aesthetic concerns for some Panama City residents. Last year, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection shut down the Coyote Transfer Site in Millville. At the time, The Coyote Land Company operated five waste sites in the state, including the Sixth Street location near Sherman Avenue. The site was only intended as a temporary waste location where refuse would only remain for less than 30 days before the company transferred it to a permanent site. This did not always occur as scheduled. When the DEP ordered the 17-acre site closed, it also fined the company over $500,000 in penalties and ordered the company to remove all garbage by February 2012. Problems at the site are not new, with complaints and repeated code violations dating back 10 years. In 2010, a fire at the site burned for a week, leading many to wonder about dangerous substances in the soil.
As WMBB notes, the clean-up deadline has come and gone. Trash is still accumulating at the site, including everything from cars to refrigerators. Residents say that the site is home also to large rodents and mosquitos, a particular concern in light of the recent West Nile cases across the country. Panama City Police spokesman Lieutenant Robert Luther said the city is working with the DEP to address health concerns. DEP officials have also discussed whether it may be appropriate for the municipality to take over the property, an unusual step that may be necessary if all other avenues of addressing problems fail. Coyote now faces fines totaling $3 million for the failure to clean up the site, amounts that the DEP may seek from insurance policies.
Former dump sites, especially those that were never properly maintained, can be a serious public health danger. Toxic chemicals can seep into the ground or spread via air pollution. While properly run modern sites are built to prevent water contamination, this can be a concern with older sites. Environmental toxins raise the risk of numerous physical ailments, posing particular risk to children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Dumpsites can also attract dangerous pests. Rodents can carry diseases that can spread through bites, fecal droppings, or via insects. Site properties themselves can also be hazardous, leading to a range of premises dangers. One example of on-site danger is the possibility of a child suffocating after becoming trapped in an old refrigerator while playing in an unsecured and improperly maintained site.
Cleaning up places like the Coyote Transfer Site obviously makes life more pleasant for residents and helps maintain property values. However, it is important to recognize these sites can pose very real health risks. Our Panama City injury lawyer is prepared to help residents who fall ill, or even lose a loved one, due to an improperly maintained dumpsite or other Bay County health threat.