Appeal Seeks to Protect Floridians, 50,000+ Acres, From Radioactive Waste and Phosphate Strip Mining

Center for Bio logo In: Appeal Seeks to Protect Floridians, 50,000+ Acres, From Radioactive Waste and Phosphate Strip Mining | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

The following press release was distributed on Feb. 12, 2018.  Phosphate mining is extremely destructive to the environment, and we have here a private company damaging our planet and putting our aquifer at risk in order to make a profit.   We commend these four organizations for their courage and commitment to help protect our Florida for generations to come.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-


Appeal Seeks to Protect Floridians, 50,000+ Acres, >From Radioactive Waste and Phosphate Strip Mining
For Immediate Release, February 12, 2018

Contacts:

Jaclyn Lopez, Center for Biological Diversity, (727) 490-9190, jlopez@biologicaldiversity.org

Dennis Mader, People for Protecting Peace River, (863) 494-4687, protectpeaceriver@gmail.com

Glenn Compton, ManaSota-88, (941) 966-6256, ManaSota88@comcast.net

Andy Mele, Suncoast Waterkeeper, (914) 204-0030, andymele@mac.com

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— Four conservation organizations today filed an appeal challenging a Florida district court’s decision that greenlights the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit to phosphate strip-mine more than 50,000 acres and produce mountains of radioactive fertilizer waste, jeopardizing Florida’s aquifers and irreversibly destroying native plant and animal habitat in west-central Florida.

The appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals aims to overturn a lower court’s decision upholding the Corps’ approval of mining that would threaten freshwater resources by allowing the unchecked growth of phosphogypsum “stacks” and obliterating wetlands and habitat for animals already clinging to survival.

“Florida’s citizens have had enough of the phosphate industry that puts our aquifers at risk and decimates habitat for our wildlife,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Corps’ failure to analyze these threats is unlawful and will devastate nearby communities.”

Once phosphate ore is removed from the earth via strip mining, it is sent to nearby fertilizer plants, where sulfuric acid turns it into phosphoric acid. This process results in thousands of acres of mutilated habitat and millions of tons of phosphogypsum, the radioactive byproduct of making fertilizer.

“Florida’s 24 open-air “gypstacks” may be the largest repository of toxic and hazardous waste in the United States,” said Andy Mele, Suncoast Waterkeeper.  “It is a toxic legacy with which no one in Florida has yet come to terms.”

Florida is already home to more than 1 billion tons of radioactive phosphogypsum, and the proposal would add approximately half a billion more tons. The phosphogypsum is piled up in stacks hundreds of feet high and hundreds of acres wide, and these “gypstacks” are prone to sinkholes and breaches. Florida is saddled with 24 gypstacks, while the majority of the fertilizer is exported abroad. In 2016, a sinkhole opened in a phosphogysum stack in Mulberry, releasing 215 million gallons of radioactive wastewater into the Floridan aquifer. This was not the first time a sinkhole opened in a gypstack, and was not even the first time a sinkhole opened at that gypstack.

“For too long, the phosphate industry has externalized the costs of its pollution.” said Glenn Compton, executive director of ManaSota-88. “Radioactive toxic waste disposal should not be an expense or risk the public has to deal with.”

The appeal cites violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act by the Army Corps and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approving the project in a region of Florida known as Bone Valley. The conservation groups that filed today’s appeal are the Center for Biological Diversity, ManaSota-88, People for Protecting Peace River and Suncoast Waterkeeper.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Center for Biological Diversity

2 Comments

  1. Excessive levels of radioactive RADON GAS exists TODAY in ten counties of FLORIDA. Many of these radioactive RADON GAS levels are ABOVE American Radiation Standards of 4.0 PC/Liter. ONE THING IS COMMON among these ten(10) Florida Counties — they ALL have phosphate mines within their boundary !!! RADON GAS is the NUMBER ONE (1) cause of Lung Cancer in America…..

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