2004 Creosote Stories
The hazards of human exposure to the popular wood preservative known as
creosote from skin rashes to lung cancer are well known to government
regulators and scientists. The federal Environmental Protection Agency
recognized creosote's perils in 1978, announcing its intention to phase
out the coal-derived preservative's required registration. That was more
than 200 years after London physician Percival Pott's ground-breaking
discovery of high cancer rates among British men who cleaned soot from
Creosote contamination sites in the United States
Coal tar creosote and two related wood preservatives have been found in
at least 62 of the current or former sites on the federal Environmental
Protection Agency's Superfund list. Public health risks were verified
in dozens of those cases by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
registry. A partial list of those creosote Superfund sites, as well as
others suspected of causing human health problems and on state cleanup
lists are shown below.
Creosote tarnishes Lee County couple's dream
After a lifetime on the road working the weekend crafts circuit, David
Leach was ready to settle down. In 2000, the 55-year-old marine photographer
and picture framer, and his wife Susan, 52, planted roots on a picturesque,
3-acre patch of waterfront property along the
Caloosahatchee River east of Fort Myers near the town of Alva. The property,
which borders the river s W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam, was a dream come
true for the Leaches.
JEROME The old Jones sawmill was the first to die, gutted to the ground
when a wayward welder s torch sparked a fire that old-timers liken to
Armageddon. The town quickly followed. With no work left in the denuded
forests, most of its residents scattered. Some followed the mill owner,
C.J. Jones, to his new lumberyard in Fort Myers. Others headed down the
road to Copeland, Everglades City or far-flung Naples. Those who stayed
behind would later realize it was a deadly decision.
The next generation
Even as children, the Sanders sisters knew they were different. For Laura
Sanders, now 28, it meant childhood food allergies so painful she "would
cry when Mom and Dad took us out to eat." There were doctor visits
too numerous to count, shortness of breath and a constant fatigue. "I
always asked myself, Why do I feel this way?, " she recalls. "
Why don t other kids feel this way? "
Collier officials say land swap deal unaffected by Jerome
While the Jerome cleanup never rose to the attention of federal environmental
watchdogs, it didn t completely escape the notice of government regulators
in Washington. In 1988, the National Park Service reached a tentative
deal with Collier Enterprises and the Barron Collier Cos. to expand the
Big Cypress National Preserve by acquiring more than 100,000 acres from
the two family businesses.
A deadly legacy
Black or white, old or young, the 19 former Jerome residents and mill
workers whose deaths are at the heart of 50 lawsuits against two Collier
family companies had one thing in common: repeated exposure to creosote-contaminated
Statement from Collier Enterprises CEO Tom Flood
A statement by Tom Flood, chief executive officer of Collier Enterprises:
County's founding father leaves his mark
Sixty five years after his death, Barron Gift Collier s legacy still looms
large over the county that bears his name. More than 2,000 students each
day pour through the doors of Barron Collier High School, just as they
have since 1978. Busloads of tourists shop at the strip malls built by
the Collier family s development interests.