JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- James Reaves sat in a hard-backed chair Thursday night inside Susie E. Tolbert elementary school listening as a spokesperson with the Environmental Protection Agency told him and dozens of his neighbors and friends the old Fairfax Street Wood Treaters facility is not only still contaminated with poisonous products, but it won't be cleaned up for potentially two years.
Reaves lives less than a block away.
"You can't tell me that you've got contamination in this one spot and then you go 30 feet on the other side of the fence and there's no contamination," he exclaimed.
Just days ago, the gutted Jacksonville factory was declared a "national priority" by the EPA.
In 2010, the area received an emergency cleanup. But, Thursday night EPA officials said the soil and drainage ditches along the perimeter of the property are still contaminated with arsenic and chromium, two known human carcinogens.
They pointed to the problem spots on a map. They were detailed in red and too numerous to count.
Reaves and several others voiced their health concerns for not only themselves, but for the children.
The Wood Treaters property sits right across from a daycare and just blocks away from both Tolbert and R.V. Daniels elementary schools.
Zelda Phillips has worked at both of them.
"This has affected the whole community. I think its a sad day," said Phillips.
And Action News learned its not going to get better anytime soon.
"Right now, tentatively scheduled the process takes 12 to 24 months to actually get to a remedial action," explained L'Tonya Spencer, Community Involvement Coordinator for the EPA.
It was a big blow to those in the room hoping something would be done sooner. Now they're left wondering how this could happen in the first place.
"Who are the people that are supposed to be looking out for us? I mean we only see them when they want something. And right now we don't have anything but a big mess," said Reaves.
None of the local councilmen who were invited to the meeting actually showed up. There were, however, representatives from both the state and local health departments in attendance.
Spencer said she will be organizing a community advisory group for the area.
Federal funds will be used to eventually clean up the site based on what the Army Corps of Engineers recommends.