We're reporters who revealed how Florida's only lead factory has poisoned its workers and polluted the community
In March, our Poisoned report, in partnership with Frontline, uncovered how workers at a Tampa lead smelter have been exposed to dangerous levels of the neurotoxin. Hundreds had alarming amounts of the metal in their blood. Many suffered serious consequences. Some carried lead home, potentially exposing their kids. (One former employee is suing Gopher Resource.)
In Poisoned Part 2, we showed how Gopher Resource knew about the lead dust inside its factory. It turned off ventilation features and delayed repairs to broken mechanical systems. For years, regulators were nowhere to be found.
Spurred by our investigation, OSHA showed up and found Gopher willfully exposed workers to high levels of airborne lead and doled out a $319k fine — one of the largest penalties in Florida in recent history. Lead wasn’t the only toxic metal it struggled to contain — the plant also broke rules on cadmium exposure.
Recently, we published Part 3: The smelter also threatened the surrounding Tampa community and environment with a pattern of polluting, despite promises to change. Under Gopher’s ownership, the plant released too much lead into the air, polluted local waterways and improperly dumped hazardous waste. Nearby residents worry about potential health effects. One put it simply: “That battery place scares me.”
Ask us anything.
Edit: The questions seem to be slowing down a bit so I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you, redditors, for the excellent questions. We'll be around periodically throughout the evening so if you have more questions, please ask and we will get to them. We will also be doing a twitter spaces livestream next week to talk about the story. If you're on twitter and interested in checking it out, you can set a reminder for the event at this link.