Should You be Worried About Buying Property Near Petroleum Contamination Sites in Orlando

Unfortunately, petroleum contamination is extremely common in Florida and many other states.  In fact, if you turn on the Petroleum Contamination points on our MoveMap, you’ll see a pretty depressing sight.  The petroleum sites in buy a home near a petroleum contamination site in orlandoOrlando alone number in the hundreds.  This is a concern in Florida because in most of the state, groundwater is very close to the surface and it provides drinking water to around 90% of residents.  Fortunately, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) tracks petroleum releases and in some cases helps remediate (clean up) the sites.  In this post, we’ll talk a bit about how petroleum releases happen in Orlando, why they’re so common, and finally, what the implications are to you as a resident.

The reason so many sites can be seen on the MoveMap for petroleum contamination shouldn’t come as a surprise; it is simply because petroleum use is extremely common and accidental releases occur frequently.  A recurring cause of soil and groundwater contamination is leaking underground storage tanks.  Storage tanks are commonly found at gas stations but also exist near backup generators and other equipment. Since Florida is prone to hurricanes, backup generators are especially numerous here, and their fuel tanks do occasionally leak. Unfortunately, gas station and generator tanks can give out without anyone noticing for quite some time.  In such cases, gasoline or diesel fuel can drain out of the rupture point and contaminate soil and groundwater.  Factories, junkyards, mill sites, shipyards and transit stations can also be causes of petroleum contamination.  Accidental spills of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and used oil contribute to the situation as well, though spills of under 25 gallons are not required to be reported to FDEP as long as the spill and affected soil are cleaned up immediately.  While the geographic area affected by oil contamination tends to be fairly constrained in the case of gas stations and other tank failures, the area contaminated by petroleum can be quite large in junkyards, factories and the like.

Depending on the nature of the soil and groundwater flow, the petroleum contamination may stay fairly contained within the site or expand out beyond the actual property boundaries.  Since gasoline and diesel fuels are lighter than water, they tend to “float” in the upper part of the water table.  Over time, the fuel will tend to move with the groundwater currents causing an elongated plume. While the results sound bad, the fact that petroleum floats is generally good news for Florida residents since most people on well water tap the Floridan Aquifer, which is very deep underground.  However, petroleum can and does occasionally poison drinking water wells, and chronic exposure to oil products can affect the nervous system, blood and kidneys.  Furthermore, petroleum contains benzene, which is a known human carcinogen.  So if there is a contamination point located near your home or a piece of real estate that you are considering buying and a well is used, it might be a good idea to get the water tested from time to time.

The state of Florida does operate a petroleum cleanup program, but it is complex and the details are outside the scope of this blog post.  Generally speaking though, once the government has identified an area which requires cleanup, it will either excavate the soil and process it to remove contaminants or place that soil in a landfill.  Contaminated groundwater may also be removed and processed before being re-released into the environment.  Depending on the nature of the site, groundwater monitoring equipment might also be installed.

Petroleum contamination is an unfortunate consequence of our modern standard of living and it does have implications for home buyers and renters in the Orlando area.  However, most petroleum contamination happens in commercial and industrial areas where people do not live.  In many cases therefore, it tends to be more of an environmental concern than a direct threat to human health.  Nevertheless, if you’re considering buying property close to a contamination site in Orlando Florida, it’s a good idea to get your well water tested.  To check out petroleum contamination in Orlando and other areas of Florida, have a look at our MoveMap over at

Fire Stations in Orlando Florida

The city of Orlando has 24 fire and rescue stations within its borders.  By looking at our MoveMap, you can see that the stations are distributed fairly evenly across Orlando, though there are more total facilities in the denser downtown areas Orlando Fire Stationsthan in suburbs.  Most fire stations are public and therefore run by the government, but a few are private.  The private stations are exclusively rescue stations, which respond to emergencies by transporting people to hospitals.

Fire stations are an essential part of any community; without them, emergencies simply wouldn’t be dealt with.  However, living near a fire station in Florida can have both pros and cons.  Notably, and not surprisingly, fire stations are loud and operate 24 hours a day.  This means that living near one can present some nuisances in the form of noise.  While most fire truck operators try to be respectful of residents, they will blare the horn if they need to, regardless of the time of day.  This is the case in downtown Orlando where most drivers will traverse the streets silently for as long as they can; however, if they’re in a hurry and they come to a stop sign or a traffic jam, they will turn on the siren.  Noise can be a nuisance for some people, but most get used to it.  As a resident of downtown Orlando, I can tell you that at first I noticed the sirens quite a bit, but now they rarely register with me and certainly don’t wake me up at night.

Even though noise can be annoying, there’s a benefit to having so many fire stations in Orlando.  Typically, response time to an incident is a function of distance from a fire station.  In reality, a great number of factors influence the response time on any given day, but distance is a big one – if you’re close to a fire station, you can generally expect a faster response than someone who lives far away.  And if you live close enough, you might even be able to get a reduced insurance rate; check with your provider.  Since most fire stations in Orlando also serve as rescue stations, elderly persons and those with chronic medical conditions should be aware of station locations, since in many cases living nearby one also means living near an emergency medical center.  You can determine which fire stations also serve as rescue centers by clicking on a point in our MoveMap.

On the down side, you should be aware that fire stations that also serve as rescue stations are a lot more active.  In other words, since they respond to more incidents, they create more noise, often at random times of day.  So if noise is a major concern for you, you might want to consider living a few blocks further away.

We hope that this blog post has helped you get a sense of how fire stations are distributed throughout Orlando as well as the functions that they serve.  The relatively even geographic distribution of stations means that most Orlando residents enjoy decent incident response times.  Living near a station can present both costs and benefits, so we encourage you to check out our MoveMap to see where the nearest fire station to you is, and what it does.  Good luck with your home search!

Homes Near Correctional Facilities In Orlando FL: Should I Be Worried?

Prisons, jails and work-release centers are prime examples of so-called unwanted land uses.  Unsurprisingly, many home buyers and Orlando Correctional Facilitesrenters try to avoid living in areas close to a correctional facility.  The reasons are not hard to imagine – prospective residents fear a higher crime rate in neighborhoods near a prison and that they might have a hard time reselling their home.  By looking at the MoversAtlas MoveMap you can see that neighborhoods close to prisons in Orlando, FL  have median income and home ownership rates slightly lower than in other areas of the community.  What’s interesting is that this link is not nearly as pronounced as might be expected.

The relationship between prisons, property values, crime rates and other statistics that affect homeowners is actually quite complex and a fair amount of debate revolves around the subject.  As we discussed earlier, most peoples’ perception is that the presence of a prison in a community lowers property values, increases the crime rate and reduces quality of life for residents.  However, at least one study conducted by Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University in conjunction with the US Department of Justice found that these beliefs are false.

The study examined 7 prisons across the country and using statistical techniques (a regression analysis) found that in all but one instance, the presence of a prison did not have a statistically significant effect on property values.  Interestingly, Realtors were also surveyed about how the presence of a prison affected their ability to sell a home.  Generally speaking, Realtors believed that correctional facilities had little to no impact on the sale price of a home and only two reported losing a sale due to the presence of a prison.

Likewise, the study found that prisons did not adversely affect residents’ quality of life or increase the crime rate (in many instances the crime rate was actually lower around prisons).  Using the median income and home ownership figures on our MoveMap as a rough indicator of neighborhood economic health seems to confirm the study’s findings.  Stay tuned, we’re working on adding parcel values to the MoveMap as well, so it will be interesting to see what actual home values look like in areas close to a correctional facility.

Now we’ll briefly discuss what types of correctional facilities are located in Orlando.  Of the 6 points you can find on the map, 5 are work release centers and 1 is the Orange County Jail.  Work release programs are designed to gradually reintegrate inmates back into the community by allowing them to work at legitimate jobs towards the end of their confinement.

Generally speaking, inmates convicted of the more serious violent crimes are not eligible for work release programs; only sufficiently trustworthy prisoners or those who can be adequately monitored are allowed to do work release (a full breakdown of who is/is not eligible can be found here:  There aren’t any perimeter fences around work release centers, but inmates have to remain at the center when not working or attending programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.  Inmates participating in work release are allowed to leave jail for a work and return to serve their time during the evenings or weekends. Below is an example of one of the work release centers in Orlando, Florida:

Bridges of Orlando is located at 2011 Mercy Drive Orlando, 32808.  It is a work release center that specializes in treating people with substance abuse issues and drug related crimes.  Their program entails interrupting chemical dependence, initiating physical and mental rehabilitation and implementing a long term recovery plan.

Jails are a bit different than work release centers as they are designed primarily to hold persons awaiting sentencing.  Work release centers on the other hand, house inmates that have already been sentenced and in many cases are near the end of their confinement.  Jails typically hold inmates for short periods of time, such as when they are awaiting a trial or serving a brief sentence of one year or less.  Counties generally operate jails.

We hope that this blog post has been informative; if you’d like to see if there are any correctional institutions in your area, check out our MoveMap.