Fervor rages over tainted wells Update Erin Brockovich reaches out to victims of Dieldrin-tainted wells

More than 150 people visited a DeLand church Sunday afternoon, but instead of spiritual guidance they were seeking information about a class action lawsuit filed over pesticide contamination in their water.
Since March, 53 wells in and around the DeLand Country Club Estates area have tested positive for high levels of dieldrin, a pesticide once used in crops and golf courses across the state and for termite treatments.
Another 43 property owners are awaiting results, state officials said this weekend. Dozens of others residents are waiting to have their water tested.
Nancy Tondorf is among those waiting to hear whether the water her family has used for drinking and bathing is contaminated.
Tondorf said she thinks about it every morning when gets up and looks at the coffee pot she has used daily for years. Her family already has switched to bottled water for ice cubes “and every other thing.”
Like Tondorf, residents at the meeting were concerned about the health of their families and loss of property value.
Although the residents haven’t been notified, Volusia County officials already have decided to reduce property values on the affected homes because of the contamination.
The lawsuit, seeking more than $10 million in damages, was filed in late May by Joshua R. Gale, a DeLand attorney. It was filed on behalf of Brian and Janice Potter of DeLand, and at least 29 additional clients who have agreed to be represented by Gale’s firm, Wiggins, Childs, Quinn and Pantazis. A well at the Potters’ home was the first home in the quiet neighborhood off Orange Camp Road to test positive for dieldrin.
Shell Chemical, a subsidiary of Shell Oil, and the DeLand Country Club are named as defendants in the suit. Gale said Shell was the exclusive manufacturer of dieldrin for 20 years. The pesticide was banned for all uses except termite treatment in 1974 and banned for use in termite treatment in 1987.
The suit alleges the pesticide was used on the golf course and migrated into nearby wells, exposing the Potters and others to high levels of dieldrin in water they use for drinking, cooking, bathing and watering their yards. It claims “negligence, wantonness, nuisance and trespass” on the part of the oil company and the country club and seeks property damages.
The lawsuit, originally filed in circuit court in DeLand, was moved to U.S. District Court in late June at the request of Shell, Gale said. Gale filed a motion on Thursday to ask for the case to be moved back to DeLand.
Residents in the area near the contaminated wells have raised concerns about multiple cancer cases in the neighborhood. But though federal officials consider dieldrin a “probable human carcinogen,” dieldrin has never been found to cause cancer in humans, David Krause, Florida’s state toxicologist, said recently.
That includes a study where 18 male participants were administered doses 100,000 times higher than the health advisory level set by the state and had “no adverse effects,” Krause said.
Studies did find dieldrin could cause tumors in the livers of mice, but at levels much higher than the drinking water standard, Krause said.
The level set by state officials for dieldrin is 0.002 micrograms per liter. Levels of the pesticide found in the water in Country Club Estates range as high as 0.099 micrograms per liter.
Bonita Sorensen, director of the Volusia County Health Department, has said the state is “trying its best to determine the extent of the contamination.”
For those whose wells exceed the state standard, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will pay for a carbon filtration system or connection to the city of DeLand’s public water utility.
Five homes have been connected to city water and the department is waiting for word from other homeowners whose wells tested positive, department spokesman Lisa Kelley said Sunday.
Barbara Costello chose to have the filtration system installed at her home after her water tested positive, but she still has concerns.
Costello said she’s “trying to be philosophical” knowing that she’s probably exposed to “so many kinds of carcinogens every day” in the environment. But, she said she worries about the financial damages.
Tondorf’s home is for sale and she fears she’s already feeling impacts.
“We haven’t even had anyone looking once word about this got around,” Tondorf said.
Residents whose wells test positive for the pesticide, but below the state standards, said they have been told they would be responsible for the costs of their own filtering system or hook-up to city water.

2 thoughts on “Fervor rages over tainted wells Update Erin Brockovich reaches out to victims of Dieldrin-tainted wells

  1. I live in the DeLand Country Club and have now been diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer caused from environmental factors. Now my dog has also been diagnosed with cancer. I’m more than angry. Someone. Refs to be held accountable

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s