Three Tallahassee Democrat Sources for Hopkins Spill Story Recently Paid by City of Tallahassee

Three Tallahassee Democrat Sources for Hopkins Spill Story Recently Paid by City of Tallahassee

A review of a recent story published in the Tallahassee Democrat, “The Diesel Disaster that Wasn’t”, reveals there were significant financial arrangements between the City of Tallahassee and people interviewed by Tallahassee Democrat reporter Jeff Burlew. The specifics of these arrangements were not disclosed.

These arrangements are important to the context of the reporting because the people interviewed either provided opinions and/or changed previous facts reported about the fuel spill at the Hopkins Generating plant.

Listed below are three of the sources quoted by Mr. Burlew, what the Tallahassee Democrat reported and their financial arrangement with the City of Tallahassee.

The payment information was taken from records provided by the City of Tallahassee, which are accessible online.


From the Tallahassee Democrat:

But by late March, ARCADIS, an international firm hired by the city to assess and clean up the leak, had an estimate, based on one day of data from monitoring wells. A March 27, 2012, report by the firm estimated that “up to 32,000 gallons” of diesel were located beneath the site.

Joe Applegate, a geologist who served as ARCADIS’ project director early on, told the Democrat the estimate was based on the thickness of diesel found in monitoring wells, a calculation that can lead to over estimates.

“The total volume that was released was likely less than 5,000 gallons,” he said. “And we believe that our recovery system extracted the vast majority of the product from the subsurface.”

Financial arrangement not reported by the Tallahassee Democrat:

Joe Applegate previously worked with ARCADIS, but more recently is employed with Geosyntec Consultants. A review of records show the City of Tallahassee paid Geosyntec Consultants $10,820 in February and March of 2017.


From the Tallahassee Democrat:

But Brooks Baldwin, a senior hydrologist with ARCADIS who is heading up the project now, said the 2.4 million gallons was an estimate only, likely provided at some point in time by the plant manager.

“Those were ballpark numbers just to get a report in the door and get it approved by the state so we could start cleanup activities,” he said.

Financial arrangement not reported by the Tallahassee Democrat:

ARCADIS is an international environmental services company that has been paid $478,057 since January 2015 by the City of Tallahassee based on online records.

Hopping Green and Sams

From the Tallahassee Democrat:

Ralph DeMeo, a Tallahassee attorney who’s worked with the city on environmental matters for 20 years, said the coverage has been sensationalized and inaccurate.

“It was a slam job that was completely misplaced,” he said. “I was embarrassed as a longtime resident of this community to see that kind of false reporting. It left out key facts and it misrepresented the facts that they reported. And the truth is they were dead wrong on virtually everything they said.”

Financial arrangement not reported by the Tallahassee Democrat:

Ralph DeMeo is a shareholder with Hopping Green and Sams. City of Tallahassee records show the law firm has been paid $67,685 since January 2015. In March 2017, the law firm received $4,500 in city payments.

15 Responses to "Three Tallahassee Democrat Sources for Hopkins Spill Story Recently Paid by City of Tallahassee"

  1. Now did Mr. Burlew randomly, on his own, just happen to randomly seek out the three paid city vendors to interview? What official(s)/commissioner(s) set up the reporter with the vendors and story? Now, that should have been the headline!

  2. Please run for city commission B Pritchard
    Wesomene with integrity on the commission!
    Joan Fowinkle

  3. The wagons have been circled and the game is in play. Great reporting, Steve Stewart. Thank you for what you do!

  4. I am with Erwin, Mr. Pichard please run for the city commission and I will bring the broom and help. Just like so many other issues they believe it is best or acceptable to lie and cover than tell the truth. I am sure that is in their secret policies or one would think, obviously because they are bad at it! Sad part is that people believe them

  5. It is appalling,an outrage, and unacceptable that City Commissioners/Manager never informed citizens of even “around 5000 gallons” they claim was leaked! Trying to hide something like this signals a leak of much, much more. Thanks TR for “real” news.

    1. I agree. I think the scandal is the lack of disclosure, not necessarily the number of gallons. If the city had been more forthcoming and reported the spill along with their corrective action plan, then there would not be a story here. Ralph DeMeo, overly self-important environmental attorney for over 20 years, you’re an environmental embarrassment to us all.

  6. The swamp is deep here in Tallahassee. Very deep. Leon County, not so deep, but deep nevertheless.

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