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Knowing Risks, Florida Let Prisoners Drink Contaminated Water


Groundwater around the Florida State Fire College has been highly contaminated for years, but inmates at the nearby Lowell women’s prison say they weren’t informed, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Testing in 2019 revealed that the groundwater contained harmful human-made chemicals at levels more than 170 times higher than the state considers safe. The chemicals are classified as carcinogens and have been linked to other health issues.


State environment officials warned the Florida Department of Corrections in a December 2022 email that the contamination was spreading south toward the prison and asked to dig a monitoring well on the Lowell campus. Within four months, testing from the well confirmed that the groundwater beneath the prison contained those chemicals, State officials took no action for eight months, allowing the women to continue to drink, wash and eat food cooked in water from supply wells that had not been tested for the foam chemicals since 2018. Water safety became an issue when several women at Lowell filed grievances fearing that their drinking water was tainted, but they were denied

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