River Cities

Large chemical tanks found buried near old Miami Springs public swimming pool

The city's former swimming pool, shown here in 2013, served locals for about 50 years. It was torn down last April to make way for a new $6 million pool.
The city's former swimming pool, shown here in 2013, served locals for about 50 years. It was torn down last April to make way for a new $6 million pool. For the Miami Herald

Miami Springs officials announced Oct. 12 that two chemical tanks — containing unknown contents — recently were discovered during excavation of the city’s 50-year-old swimming pool.

“There was an old chemical tank — actually two tanks — in the ground,” said Tammy Romero, the city’s professional services supervisor, while addressing leaders at the Oct. 12 council meeting. “We finally did get that all removed and had DERM give us the thumbs up on that.”

The Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) is a division of Miami-Dade County’s Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources.

The tanks were found by contractors as they prepped the foundation for the new $5 million pool facility, which broke ground last April.

“While preparations for the foundation for the new aquatic facility were underway, the city’s contractor discovered an unforeseen 300-gallon underground storage tank and an adjacent concrete vault,” states a tank closure report submitted from the city to DERM last August.

The 16-foot-by-6-foot tank, which could hold 2,400 pounds of fuel, was believed to have been used for diesel storage. The tank ruptured recently and an “unknown” amount of liquid was released to adjacent surface soils, states the report.​

“The soil and groundwater analysis do not exceed the cleanup target levels referenced in Chapter 24 of the Miami-Dade County code,” reads a letter sent Sept. 25 from DERM to the city of Miami Springs. “If subsequent evidence indicates that undiscovered contamination remains from a previous discharge or if a new discharge has occurred, then further action will be required to address such contamination.”

More than five tons of “petroleum contaminated soil” was scooped from the pool area Aug. 25 and hauled off to a Medley landfill, states a city soil disposal report obtained by the Herald through a public records request.

​Located near the kiddie slide area of the former pool, the tank was removed and crushed before an inspector arrived onsite. An adjacent tank, which measured 12 feet by 6 feet, also was removed.

​“Those tanks did not show up on any of the paperwork that we had archived,” Miami Springs Mayor Zavier Garcia said.

The city hired an engineering firm to conduct tests of the soil and water, which showed traces of benzene, toluene, arsenic, mercury, lead and other heavy metals. However, these contaminants “do not exceed the cleanup target levels” cited in the county code, states the report.

​The pool earned a “satisfactory” rating from the county during its last inspection in 2013. The Herald reported that same year that the pool, which sat near the fuel tanks, had cracks and fractures in its shell. It had deteriorated so badly, the former city building inspector pleaded with leaders to close it down.

“So long as nobody is in there, you have no life safety threat,” former building official Skip Reed said when asked why the city should consider closing the pool by Nov. 15, 2013. “I can’t allow any further use of that [pool] building.”

A new 6,000-square-foot pool structure that includes six lap-swimming lanes, a giant slide and a one-story administrative office building is expected to be completed by next summer.

This article has been updated to include comment from Miami-Dade County’s Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources.

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