The following letter was sent by a local homeowner with support from PBCEC on 11/24/2015 to thousands of residents in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter and unincorporated Palm Beach County who live in communities surrounding the Briger property. [Details on Dec 5th Rally can be found here.]
I am a homeowner in Palm Beach Country Estates. I’m sending this letter to ask for your help in protecting our community from over-development and hazardous pollution.
Surely you’ve noticed that construction has begun in the Briger Tract forest on Donald Ross Road, across from the FAU campus.
The current development plan entails clearing almost the entire 683 acres of forest on both sides of I-95, for homes, corporate offices, animal testing labs and biotech research.
What you have not likely heard is what these corporations will actually be doing.
- What hazardous materials will they be researching with?
- What kind of waste will they create?
- How will they dispose of it?
- How could this effect property values?
As you also may have seen in the news over the years, Phase II of The Scripps Research Institute intends to deal with high-level pathogens and toxic substances such as anthrax, Mad Cow disease, radioactive materials and genetically engineered organisms.
In the past several months, USA Today has done a series exposing high-level “biolabs” and the frequency that they experience unreported accidents or operate without transparency nationwide. Their report listed Scripps’ facility on the Jupiter FAU campus as a problem facility with regard to failures in disclosing information needed to safeguard the public.
On top of this is the addition of United Technologies Corporation (UTC) into the development plan for Briger. UTC is at the top of the suspect list for bringing a cancer cluster to the Acreage with their repeated toxic spills causing water contamination in Western Palm Beach County. While they have attempted to dodge responsibility for this, they cannot deny their record of repeated environmental violations.
I am including links below for more info on Scripps and UTC so that you can follow up with your own research.
But hope is not lost… yet.
After communicating with the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC), I learned that the plan for development was supposed to require a Hazardous Waste Management Plan (HWMP). And while they initially broke ground last year without this plan in place, a series of legal challenges by PBCEC has forced them to produce one.
Unfortunately the HWMP is inadequate, but it is a starting point to raise concerns. As you read this letter, PBCEC is heading for another legal challenge about this issue.
While our County Commission—and the developers who control it—have been saying that Briger development is a done deal, the truth is that the fight is far from over. They have cut a deep scar into the forest, but 500+ acres remains, and they have not yet broken ground on laboratories or corporate facilities. Each step of the process will require additional permits.
The developers expected to begin construction in 2011, but due to protests and legal challenges, they didn’t get their bulldozers in until 2015.
The Scripps plan has been defeated before, when it was proposed out west on Northlake Boulevard. That was stopped in 2006, after construction started. This development can be defeated again.
If neighbors of the Briger forest can stop these developers from putting our families’ health at risk and dropping our property values, we will also save endangered species in this forest and stop the torture of primates, cats, dogs and other animals in the labs.
Here’s how you can get involved:
Join the PBCEC in protest on Dec 5th at 10am. We will meet at the intersection of Donald Ross Road and Parkside Drive. (There is public parking nearby in the Abacoa town center.)
Donate to support the legal battle against development permits on Briger.
www.pbcec.net (The ‘donate’ link is on the upper right-hand side of the webpage.) or send a check made to Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition at 822 North C Street, Lake Worth, FL 33460.
If you have any questions, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org o
Thank you in advance for your support. I look forward to seeing you at the protest next month.
Sincerely,[Signed by a homeowner of Palm Beach Country Estates in Palm Beach Gardens]
Link to the USA Today BioLab report showing problems at Scripps existing facilities: http://www.usatoday.com/search/biolabs/
Link to details about UTC and its subsidiaries being fined millions of dollars in penalties from environment cases in the US over the past two decades, along with other violations related to labor, human rights and consumer protection: