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Cancer mystery gets a new player: Erin Brockovich to visit Satellite Beach

Brockovich has yet to pin down date for visit

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SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. – Weeks before her anticipated visit to Satellite Beach, celebrity environmental activist Erin Brockovich, who inspired the 2000 Academy Award-winning film of her namesake, is already making her pending presence known on social media. 

This small city of 18,500 people, which prides itself on environmental stewardship, has been in Brockovich's social media cross hairs, lately, prompting concerns about property values and rebuttals from local government.

On Thursday, the man who Brockovich calls "her water guy" confirmed that he and Brockovich plan to visit Satellite Beach and several other places in Florida next month but have yet to pin down a specific date.

A day earlier, a post he said he and Brockovich wrote ruffled a few local feathers. 

[STORY: How chemicals can make their way into groundwater]

"Will you please wake the hell up?" said the post Wednesday on Brockovich's official Facebook page. "The first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one."

Satellite Beach, Florida

Satellite Beach & Brevard County, Florida Will you please wake the hell up? The first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one... This is a metal container... dug up in a yard in your community today. It is part of a landfill and toxic debris left behind by the Navy and then the Air Force. The Satellite Beach area of Brevard County's entire barrior island is covered in this waste... vast unknowns. Digging up an old container, weapons system components... even old jeep and airplane parts is common place. I am in communication with medical professionals concerned about the high rate of cancer in your community... you igonore them. Community members are being threatend with violence to be quiet as they might harm property values... and you laugh at them. The Air Force has reported discovery of the toxic emerging contaminats PFOA/PFOS coming from the base... and you have mocked them... parroting rediculous statements about bug spays, sunscreen and water proof clothing. The coverup in most instances is worse than the crime. The Satellite Beach City Council and Brevard County Comissioners have the responsibility to do the right thing... as locally elected leaders they must demand answers from the Department of Defense NOW! Frank Catino fcatino@satellitebeach.org Dominick Montanaro dmontanaro@satellitebeach.org Mark Brimer mbrimer@satellitebeach.org Mindy Gibson mgibson@satellitebeach.org Steve Osmer sosmer@satellitebeach.org Courtney H. Barker - City Manager cbarker@satellitebeach.org Commissioner Rita Pritchett (Chair) D1.Commissioner@BrevardFL.gov Commissioner Jim Barfield D2.Commissioner@BrevardFL.gov Commissioner John Tobia D3.Commissioner@BrevardFL.gov Commissioner Curt Smith D4.Commissioner@BrevardFL.gov Commissioner Kristine Isnardi (Vice Chair) D5.Commissioner@BrevardFL.gov

Posted by Erin Brockovich on Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The post on Brockovich's official Facebook page included video of what it described as "a metal container dug up in a yard in your community." Deputies declared the scene safe Tuesday afternoon after report of a "suspicious device" found in the backyard of a home near Dorset Lane and Eden Avenue in South Patrick Shores. The metal object looks to have wires coming out of it but was not deemed a threat by law enforcement or firefighters.

Brockovich's post went on to say the dug-up metal was "part of a landfill and toxic debris left behind by the Navy and then the Air Force" and that the Satellite Beach area of Brevard County's entire barrier island "is covered in this waste... vast unknowns."

"Digging up an old container, weapons system components... even old jeep and airplane parts is common place," the post said.

Bob Bowcock, an associate of Brockovich's who consults her on environmental issues, said Thursday that both he and Brockovich contributed to Wednesday's post about Satellite Beach and that he had already heard from City Manager Courtney Barker.

"I want to work with the city manager," said Bob Bowcock, an associate of Brockovich's who consults her on environmental investigations.

Bowcock said their intent in the post was not to shame city or other local officials, but that they got concerned after seeing video of a recent community meeting.

"It was being downplayed," Bowcock said of the local concerns about exposures to fluorinated compounds linked with past use of fire foams at Patrick Air Force Base.

"We're not accusing the council people," Bowcock said. "We're not saying the city council did or did not do anything."

The post said Brockovich is in communication with medical professionals concerned about the high rate of cancer in the community. "You ignore them. Community members are being threatened with violence to be quiet as they might harm property values," the post says," and you laugh at them. The Air Force has reported discovery of the toxic emerging contaminats[sic] PFOA/PFOS coming from the base... and you have mocked them... parroting rediculous[sic] statements about bug spays, sunscreen and water proof clothing. The coverup[sic] in most instances is worse than the crime."

The post urges city and county officials to demand answers from the U.S. Department of Defense and lists contact information for people to contact city and county officials.

In response, City Manager Courtney Barker posted on the city's Facebook page, "There a number of incorrect statements on this post. The first being that this area you are referring to is actually in a neighboring jurisdiction, the unincorporated area of South Patrick Shores.

"Secondly, the oncologist that you say we are ignoring speaks to me on a regular basis and has serious concerns with the claims in this posting, as do we. We are helping her get answers from the Florida Department of Health, which is now conducting an analysis of cancer cases in the 32937 zip code."

Barker also goes on to explain that Brevard County Sheriff's Office said the so-called "55 gallon drum of chemicals" was determined to be a bucket with a wire.

"The old item contained dirt, was not an ordinance and not considered to be a danger," Barker's post says. "I know this is outside the City, but please call if you have questions. Considering your page has such a large following, perhaps your staff should confirm such information prior to posting, as this has alarmed our residents and has since been determined to be unsubstantiated."