gregory fields
BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON CONCERN SPREADS — Gregory Fields, who lives a house away from the excavation site, wonders if his well may have been contaminated by the petroleum products formerly stored on the now-vacant property at 740 W. Lisbon Parkway.

Authorities are still probing a case of possible water contamination that may have been caused by underground oil tanks just outside DeLand city limits.

The trouble was reported to The Beacon after a resident near the site on Lisbon Parkway told the newspaper he was drinking and washing with bottled water after his well water was contaminated, and that he had been sickened by fumes that leaked from one of the tanks when a worker tried to dig it out of the ground.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection told The Beacon it has “identified the property owner who has registered the tanks and hired a contractor to begin assessment of the site,” as noted in an email response to a query.

The Volusia County Property Appraiser’s Office lists the owner of the site at 740 W. Lisbon Parkway as The Lisbon Pkwy Trust, whose address is a DeLand post-office box. Court records show the trust purchased the property at a tax-deed sale in May.

Eddie Fort, who lives across from the tank-excavation site, said he has been hospitalized twice because of the effects of the fumes in the neighborhood.

“I was coming home in the evening. They told me Eddie went to the hospital,” another neighbor, Gregory Fields, told The Beacon. “He had a window AC unit, and the fumes from the tank went into the house.”

Fields said he wonders if his irrigation well has been contaminated.

He also told The Beacon that, years ago, a previous owner of the property at 740 W. Lisbon Parkway sold diesel and kerosene from the tanks. Fields also said he understands a kerosene tank is still underground.

The Florida Department of Health cited the owner for having an “improperly abandoned well,” and gave the property owner “30 days from the receipt of this letter to submit an application to properly abandon this well.”

“The incident has been stabilized and DEP is coordinating with the property owner on additional cleanup efforts, including the assessment and remediation of any soil impacts,” wrote Katrina Kasemir, of the Central District of the FDEP.

A diesel tank unearthed and left by the road for several days was hauled away a few days ago, but who removed it is not clear.

A tank that may have held kerosene may still be underground. The excavation site has been cordoned off, and no-trespassing signs are posted.

Kasemir also wrote that the FDEP will conduct an assessment of the property “to determine the level of contamination (if any) present on the site.”

While the FDEP is in charge of site cleanup, the Florida Department of Health is in charge of well-water quality.

The Department of Health’s Volusia County unit is still trying to determine if other households may be affected by the possible seepage of oil products into the groundwater.

Most of the homes in the area, including those outside the city limits, are connected to DeLand’s municipal water system, but a few are not. The agency tested water from two addresses nearby, and samples were sent to laboratories for analysis.

“We visited 713 and 716 W. Mansfield St. These are the two properties that supposedly have wells,” Health Department spokeswoman Wendi Jackson said. “At 716, nobody was home.”

Jackson added the home at 713 W. Mansfield “looked abandoned.” Yet, the Health Department personnel “left door-hangers” with instructions to call the agency about any questions regarding possible water contamination.

“If people have questions or concerns about well water or wells in their area, they can contact the Florida Department of Health’s Environmental Health section. The number is 386-624-0483,” Jackson said.

Fields said the Health Department gave him a bottle to sample the water from his well, which he said he uses for irrigation. He said he intends to return the bottle with water from his well to the agency later this week.

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