The thing about the banned pesticide DDT is that it never goes away — at least not for hundreds of years.
This is a lesson Central Florida learned the hard way, starting nearly 40 years ago when a crooked chemical company owner dumped DDT-laced water into ponds that overflowed into a drainage canal connected to Lake Apopka.
The city of Clermont was a rural outpost of 5,000 people at the time in a county where the owner of Tower Chemical, which made the DDT, was also the head of the Lake County Pollution Control Board.
Anyone possessed of the facts in the paragraph above — and knowing that this is Florida — can finish this fox-watching-hen-house story.
Few people realized that something was amiss at Tower because the land between the east border of Clermont and the west one of Oakland was a no man’s land. The plant was conveniently tucked just a half-mile north of State Road 50 on County Road 455.
The first clue came when the toxic stew started killing neighborhood dogs that unwittingly lapped from puddles and sent the now-banned pesticide flowing into Florida's second-largest lake, already polluted by years of municipal and agricultural waste.
Allan Hartle, who grew up near Tower, often was sent as a kid to feed the family’s cows in the pasture next to the company, where he could see a greenish cloud hovering over the plant. It was chlorine mixed with DDT, and it had leaked.