The excavation of arsenic-laden sludge from a city landfill in Fort Myers' Dunbar community began Thursday.
In decades past, the city had used the site to dump lime sludge that was the byproduct of the water treatment process. Residents of the predominantly black neighborhood didn't know about the arsenic contamination until a News-Press investigation revealed the story in 2017.
Crews are working five days a week to dig out some 30,000 tons of the sludge buried beneath the water table.
Cleanup of the site was one of the demands of a federal class action lawsuit filed against the city last spring. A settlement on the cleanup is expected soon, but no agreement has been reached on claims by residents complaining of diminished property values and contamination exposure-related health effects.
A judge has not approved the proposed classes that could potentially bring hundreds of more plaintiffs into the suit.