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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Eco-Health Festival aims to protect residents from chemicals at Cabot/Koppers Superfund site

Three-year-old Dexter Banks climbed up the giant inflatable gator bounce house while residents learned about the history of the environmentally toxic Cabot/Koppers Superfund site.

The Eco-Health Festival, which took place at the Agape Faith Center Saturday, was aimed at educating residents about how to protect themselves from the hazardous chemicals found at the Superfund site, which have since been found outside the site itself. About 80 people attended.

Ky Gress, an event organizer and a UF soil and water science Ph.D. student, said she is happy with the information the event was able to provide to the community about how to protect themselves from toxic chemicals, but was disappointed with the number of people who showed up.

She said she thinks the small crowd was due to what she calls “Koppers fatigue.” She said people in the community are feeling helpless and scared about the contamination since they’ve dealt with it for decades.

However, she said in a speech at the event that the university is a tremendous support for the neighborhood and those who are looking to improve it.

The day was filled with information for neighborhood residents, including science demonstrations about dioxins. Children learned about frogs that can be used to indicate dangerous toxins.

Speakers from the community shared their individual expertise from engineering to real estate, while Mayor Craig Lowe expressed his and the city’s support of the neighborhood residents.

Dionne Banks, a sociology professor at Santa Fe College, attended the festival with her family to meet more of her neighbors in the Stephen Foster neighborhood.

She said she taught her students about the toxic chemicals found in the area because of the nearby Cabot/Koppers Superfund site in class. She said she wanted them to be able to identify a problem in the community and to see people working to solve it.

“It’s problem-solving in a very civic way,” Banks said.

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