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Locations of Gas Plants and Other Coal-tar Sites in the U.S.

THE STATE OF FLORIDA

Introduction

            Manufactured gas arrived in Florida at a relatively late date, mainly in the 1880s, when the State became a “snow-bird” haven for northern gas entrepreneurs and gas engineers, and a considerable number of the smaller gas plants were created by these investors, seeking a justifiable winter-vacation location. Most notable was Benjamin W. Stilwell, an non-practicing medical school graduate of the Bronx, who hired on with UGI and managed (with his chemistry background) the gas works at Palatka, Florida. Dr. Stilwell returned to the Bronx in about 1900, and represented UGI in its colonization of that borough and of Westchester County. It was at Palatka, that his eldest son, later known as U.S. Army General Joseph Warren Stilwell, was born. Younger son, Colonel John  Stilwell was a career employee of the Consolidated Gas Company of New York City, purchasing heir to the UGI holdings in the Bronx and in Westchester County, N.Y. The Grand Rapids, Michigan, syndicates also were much interested. Other owners of Florida gas plants was the Massachusetts Gas & Lighting Company, at Daytona and Chicago’s Dawes Brothers, at Jacksonville.

            Of the holding companies operating in Florida and existing in some form today, most were created during the last half of the 1920s.

            The municipal movement toward public ownership of gas works in America, probably reached its maximum development in Florida, in the great flurry of the mid-1920s. Some of these plants were taken over by cities, and others were created by cities who had previously been without illumination. Notable among municipal plants were Ft. Myers, Ft. Meade, Gulf Breeze, and Havana,

            Industrial gas usage in Florida, by way of producer gas plants, was advanced enough by 1910 to justify the existence of manufacturers of producer gas engines, notably the Gibbs Engine Co., of Jacksonville.

            Gas remained unregulated in Florida until 1952, when the Florida Railroad & Public Utility Commission was created.

            Natural gas importation and distribution was widespread in Florida by 1953, with manufactured gas well on its way out, with the difference also having been made up by various sources of liquefied gas. In the final years of the conversion to natural gas, many of the carburetted water gas plants were converted to reforming sets operating on oil refinery residual gas. Florida Power & Light Co., of Dade County, was the last holdout for manufactured gas. Natural gas supplies were generally complete by 1959. Propane gas supply was then carrying the heating needs in rural areas.

            Abundant evergreen growth led to establishment of wood treatment facilities in the panhandle and northern counties, whereby railroad and port use for such timber supplied much of the needs of the American southeast. These facilities started appearing about 1905. Many of the sites had been sponsored or operated by railroads, and hence, were attractive PRP targets for SUPERFUND enforcement.

            In its role as a pro-active State environmental agency, the DEP hired the Institute of Gas Technology, then falling on hard times with retraction of its founding constituency of the utility industry to advise it of yet-undisclosed FMGPs. IGT reported its findings in 2001, of additional FMGP sites that had not been discovered by USEPA in its 1984-1985 disclosures. IGT thereby considerably expanded DEP's list of known FMGP sites.

Click the blue "EPA" link below to view the
Florida map of the EPA 1985 Radian FMGP Report.

Click the green "Hatheway" link below to view the
Florida map of Professor Hatheway's research.

Copyright © 2012  by Dr. Allen W. Hatheway    All rights reserved.
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