The mining melee in Bradford County is heating up with high emotions on both sides. Tempers flared, bullying took place, a scuffle ensued, armed men manhandled a peaceful citizen who simply voiced his opinion. The Bradford County ensemble must do better than to allow this. The county must control its proceedings and provide a safe environment for citizens.
At an earlier meeting the Bradford County commissioners had agreed not to pursue a moratorium on new mining permits, and even discouraged open discourse with the public.
Union County, adjoining to Bradford County, just across New River, on April 18, 2016 completed the second hearing on an ordinance requiring a 12-month period in which no mining permits will be accepted, giving the planning council or department time to reconsider the land development regulations (LDRs) which may be out of date.
OSFR Policy Director Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson has contributed the following information regarding the Santa Fe River, which is exposed to the threat of harm by the proposed mine in Union and Bradford Counties.
. The Santa Fe River has a list of protective legislatively defined layers that will not allow degradation. Phosphate mining has been known to cause harm to water systems in its area of excavation and production.
Upper Santa Fe River Minimum Flow and Level, 2008 http://www.srwmd.state.fl.us/index.aspx?NID=119
Lower Minimum Flow and Level, 2013 http://fl-suwanneeriver.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=121
Santa Fe River Basin Management Action Plan, 2012 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/watersheds/docs/bmap/sfr-nutrient-bmap-final.pdf
Outstanding Florida Waters, Santa Fe River System, 1984 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wqssp/ofwfs.htm
Federal Clean Water Act, Area of Critical Habitat, 2007 http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/17690/0 (please see attached report)
Water Resource Caution Area http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/reuse/wrca.htm
The Citizens Against Phosphate Mining in Union and Bradford Counties and Our Santa Fe River commissioned, Dr. Richard Weisskoff, PhD. to prepare this economic report on the Lon Term Effects of Mining Communities to help you to make informed decision on our community.
Logic would seem to indicate that a natural resource with this many layers of protection by so many agencies would certainly be off-limits to nearly any type of risky commercial, for-profit venture. If Bradford County should decide they want to allow this type of environmentally destructive ventures, with a history of catastrophic accidents, it would seem likely the county might leave itself open to litigation from many avenues in case of damage to the river.
Even more important than the threat of litigation, the commissioners should look beyond a few jobs and increased revenue and do the right thing for the residents and future residents of the county. If the river is ruined, agencies and companies might be forced legally to pay retribution, but the bottom line is that the river could not be reclaimed.