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Release Date: 01/19/2000
Contact Information: Dawn Harris, EPA Press Relations, 404-562-8421
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting an investigation at Tuttle Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. The investigation is being conducted under the authority of the Comprehensive Environmental Response and liability Act (CERCLA, also known as Superfund) to determine if the site presents risk to human health and the environment that are sufficient to warrant further investigation and/or remediation.

A Preliminary Assessment of the site concluded that the school did warrant a Site Inspection due to concerns regarding soil exposure and groundwater migration. To date, EPA has collected air, surface and subsurface soil, surface water, sediment and groundwater samples as part of the assessment of the site. Analysis of the samples is ongoing. Also, EPA will undertake further work within the next two weeks to determine rates of methane gas movement and will work to identify the potential exposure in the area.

Tuttle Elementary School is located on the corner of Tuttle Avenue and Eighth Street in Sarasota. The new school occupies the western section of 19 acres owned by Sarasota County, which also includes a former municipal landfill. The landfill was operational from the late 1950s to the late 1960s. Since the landfill was active before existing environmental regulations, complete information is unavailable regarding the types of waste deposited in the landfill.

Recognizing that most landfills generate methane gas, a potentially explosive gas, as well as other gases, measures were taken to minimize the possibility of methane gas accumulation inside the school buildings. This included placing impermeable material between the landfill material and the building’s foundation and the installation of horizontal pipes to allow any gases which might accumulate to passively vent to the outside air. Based on available information, these measures have been effective. In addition, seven gas wells were installed to monitor methane gas concentrations in the vicinity of the buildings. Methane gas concentrations are also being monitored in the passive vent pipes.