Why Lynda Bell would do anything less than speak up in favor of 100-percent clean up efforts is outrageous and offensive to parents. Worse, the school system was paying for the arsenic decontamination through a dedicated fund that had already collected the fees. To add insult to injury, two years later, Lynda Bell doubled-down on her position regarding arsenic saying that “it was no big deal and that anyone can put a spoon in their backyard and dig out arsenic.” And she even says that arsenic is natural.
Mar. 2007: EFBD Tried to Clean Up Elevated Arsenic Levels on the Cheap. In 2007, a planned K-8 school in Homestead faced delays after the group in charge of cleaning up the school site failed to fully remove arsenic-contaminated soil and groundwater. The Miami-Dade school system insisted the only way to clean the land was to completely decontaminate the site first, something the Educational Facilities Benefits District board, of which Lynda Bell was a member, balked at. The Miami-Dade school system had agreed to build and pay for the school, with site clean-up to be paid for by the EFBD, a unique special-taxing district funded from developers' impact fees. The Miami-Dade school system collected the money, which it intended to distribute to nonprofit EFBD board to build schools in Homestead. However, the EFBD board’s cleanup plan only included de-mucking about 10 feet of soil from 80 percent of the property and replacing it with new fill. As a result, the Miami-Dade school system refused to release the collected funds to pay for a $7 million cleanup after slightly elevated levels of arsenic were detected in the soil and groundwater. Bell tried to blame the school system, saying the EFBD was never informed about state law requiring a full cleanup. (Miami Herald, Mar. 29, 2007)
“For schools, there is only one way to clean land, and that is to completely decontaminate the site,” [Miami-Dade Schools planning director Ana Rijo-Conde] said. That position does not sit well with the EFBD board. It said the environmental concerns are nothing new and that a plan had been in place to turn over the land in phases as each portion was decontaminated.
Somewhere along the way, the rules changed, it said.
“We thought we were pretty much on track. And then they came back and said they couldn't accept the land by state law,'' said Bell, the council appointee to the EFBD board. 'We said, ‘Since when? Why haven't we known about this? Why weren't we informed?’” (Miami Herald, Mar. 29, 2007)
2009: School Opens after Cleanup, Bell still Insists Arsenic is “Natural.” In May 2009, the much troubled K-8 school from the Homestead Educational Facilities Benefits District was finally set to open in just in time for the 2009-10 school year, making it one of the first new schools to open in the Homestead area in more than three decades. Then-Homestead Mayor Lynda Bell, also an EFBD member who pushed the interlocal agreement in 2005, said the school’s theme would be the environment, because of the long, expensive cleanup of the contaminated land. Bell still insisted that arsenic occurred “naturally” due to the use of fertilizers. (Miami Herald, Mar. 22, 2009)
The environmental theme was arrived at through the necessary cleanup of the land where the school sits, Bell said.
''There was arsenic in the ground, which occurs naturally around here with a lot of the fertilizers used,'' she said. ``But we got it cleaned up.'' (Miami Herald, Mar. 22, 2009)
Last Saturday's Miami Herald did a story on the elevated Arsenic Level at Chapman Field, arsenic contamination is now a giant problem in the county with many City of Miami parks closed. Source of toxic soil at Chapman Field a mystery, Miami-Dade officials say. We need our Commissioners to be leaders in addressing this Arsenic problem that puts our children at risk. We don't need people like Lynda Bell who fights against the safety of children by trying to downplay the problem. Arsenic is not a subject for cavalier behavior. It is one thing to be cavalier about pink slime (as Lynda Bell is) which is disgusting but not life threatening but quite another to downplay Arsenic contamination and argue about its removal for a school. The funny thing about Lynda Bell, if you watch the pink slime video and the Arsenic video, her reaction is pretty similar: It is not about the people.
In this video from 2012 Lynda Bell is downplaying the Arsenic Contamination around the Homestead airport when Donald Trump's lawyer brought it up as a reason the Trump Group was hesitant of the deal for a movie studio near the Homestead airport. As you can see, Lynda Bell considers arsenic clean-up as no big deal for a mega developer, but argued for arsenic removal on the cheap for citizens and a school for children.
|Miami Dade County: Arsenic Soil Contamination is a bigger problem than anyone is acknowledging.|
Whether arsenic is ingested from water or from soil, it can be absorbed into the body. Once in the body, the arsenic (regardless of where it came from) poses an increased risk for arsenic-related health effects. Many different factors (for example, the form and amount of arsenic, the characteristics of the soil, the presence of other contaminants, the age of the person ingesting the soil, and whether or not their stomach contains food) can influence how much arsenic is absorbed into the body when soil is ingested. How these factors influence arsenic absorption is difficult to quantify. In light of these uncertainties, the agencies consider the absorption of arsenic from soil to be the same as that from water. AND:
"According to a 1999 study by the National Academy of Sciences, arsenic in drinking water causes bladder, lung and skin cancer, and may cause kidney and liver cancer. The study also found that arsenic harms the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as heart and blood vessels, and causes serious skin problems. It also may cause birth defects and reproductive problems."
If you consume 2 liters of water a day with Arsenic levels of 20 parts per billion you have a 1 in 250 total cancer risk.