Environmental Assault on Tallevast: Sacrificing Communities for Commercial Gain

Environmental Assault on Tallevast: Sacrificing Communities for Commercial Gain

The unincorporated Gulf Coast community of Tallevast faces a coordinated onslaught of environmental assaults, as industrial pollution and commercial development threaten the health and well-being of its predominantly Black residents.

Tallevast, a historically Black community located north of the Sarasota/Bradenton Airport, is grappling with a series of environmental challenges that have taken a toll on its natural resources and the health of its residents. From groundwater contamination to the encroachment of industrial facilities and the expansion of commercial development, Tallevast has become a battleground where profit seems to take precedence over the well-being of its inhabitants. This article delves into the environmental assault on Tallevast, shedding light on the various factors contributing to its vulnerability and the ongoing struggle for justice.

Toxic Contamination and Health Impacts

For over 50 years, the American Beryllium Co. (ABC), owned by the Loral Corporation, operated a facility in the heart of Tallevast, machining toxic beryllium. The production process emitted toxic dust into the air, while the cleaning process led to the seepage of trichlorethylene (TCE) into the groundwater. Despite remediation efforts by Lockheed Martin, which acquired ABC, residents continue to express concerns about their safety. Rates of cancers and other illnesses in Tallevast exceed those in other Black communities in Florida, further fueling their distrust.

Broken Promises and Neglected Infrastructure

The county’s failure to fulfill its 1980s Community Development Block Grant, known as the “Tallevast Comprehensive Improvement Grant,” has left residents vulnerable to direct exposure to contamination. The grant was intended to bring all properties in Tallevast onto Manatee County water and sewer lines. However, the county claims that the funds were exhausted before homes in the eastern half of the community could be connected. Despite finally bringing all residents onto water lines, homes that were not connected to sewer during the renovations remain on septic tanks. The county’s recent proposal for a gravity sewer project, which would cost residents nearly $20,000 per home, further highlights the dismissive attitude towards their well-being.

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Encroachment of Industries and Environmental Hazards

In addition to the toxic contamination left behind by the ABC facility, Tallevast now faces a new wave of industries encircling the community. The construction of a bus depot and the rezoning of land for an Amazon distribution facility have raised concerns among residents about the environmental impacts. Manatee County officials have shown little willingness to collaborate with Tallevast residents to address the increased traffic and air pollution resulting from these developments.

Airport Expansion and Railway Dangers

As the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport expands, Tallevast residents are subjected to air, noise, and light pollution, as well as the risks associated with living near a busy airport. Recent incidents, such as two planes nearly colliding and a train derailment carrying liquid propane gas, highlight the dangers faced by the community. The coordinated environmental attack on Tallevast, fueled by the airport expansion, proliferation of warehouses, and unfinished remediation efforts, further exacerbates the community’s vulnerability.

Conclusion:

The story of Tallevast serves as a stark reminder of the sacrifices made by marginalized communities in the name of economic progress. The environmental assaults and dismissals faced by Tallevast residents highlight the urgent need for justice and accountability. As Florida’s commercial real estate development encircles Tallevast, it is crucial to elevate this community’s story and remember it as a warning for the future. The fight for environmental justice in Tallevast is not just about one community but about the broader struggle to address the impacts of industrial pollution and prioritize the well-being of marginalized communities.