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New Wales Permit Application Action Alert: Stop Sinkhole-Prone Radioactive Gypstack Expansion

Florida Moonscape

In the wake of a near-environmental disaster at the Piney Point phosphogypsum stack, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is now entertaining plans to expand the New Wales gypstack – the same gypstack that suffered a catastrophic sinkhole in 2016.

In 2016, a sinkhole 45 feet wide and hundreds of feet deep opened in the New Wales phosphogypsum stack, and for weeks dumped wastewater and phosphogypsum into the Floridan aquifer before the public was even made aware. All told, at least 215 million gallons of radioactive, toxic wastewater and an unknown amount of phosphogypsum fell into the Floridan aquifer. The 2016 sinkhole wasn’t the first at this gypstack.

A Florida sea of poison

In 2004, an “anomaly” occurred at the stack, and in 1994 and 2013 other anomalies or sinkholes occurred at the north stack. And now Mosaic wants to expand the stack by another 230 acres.

The fertilizer production is a dirty and dangerous business from start to finish. In addition to tearing up hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat in Florida’s heartland to strip mine phosphate ore, the phosphate fertilizer industry is also responsible for creating more than 1 billion tons of a radioactive waste called phosphogypsum, stored in 25 “stacks” throughout Florida.

Let FDEP know you voice your concerns and tell the state enough is enough.  Use the text below, but by all means feel free to modify it to tell your personal message.

Email to: [email protected]

Subject:  Deny Mosaic’s Request to Expand the Sinkhole-Prone New Wales Gypstack (Permit FL0036421)

Text:  I am adamantly opposed to Mosaic’s New Wales Concentrate Plant permit application to expand the existing phosphogypsum stacks an additional 230 acres. This facility and region of Florida has experienced a host of problems, including the 2016 sinkhole releasing 215 million gallons of process wastewater in the Floridan aquifer and other anomalies or sinkholes in 1994, 2004, and 2013.

The most alarming point is that this particular area has shown itself to be vulnerable to sinkholes. These documented sinkhole events are warnings that we cannot continue to ignore.

The most recent, entirely predictable phosphogypsum stack failure at Piney Point and the troubling response is a stark reminder that millions of people around Florida are living close to these ticking time bombs.

Until the state and local officials can do a better job of adequately managing the risks, I am opposed to the New Wales Concentrate Plant permit application and ask the Florida Department of Environmental Protection deny Mosaic’s request for expansion.




Important Hearing, Lake Butler June 26, 2019 HPSII/Union County

 

Boots on the Ground needed!!  Prepare NOW to BE THERE on June 26!

On June 26, 10:00 am in the Union Co. Courthouse, a hearing will be held to determine the outcome of HPS ‘ lawsuit against Union Co. demanding $298,750,000 and costs for monies lost for not being allowed to mine.   Attend to support the brave commissioners of Union Co. who are fighting to do the will of the people and keep corporate bullies out of Union Co.

Union County will request a dismissal of the lawsuit.  If granted, that will be great.  If denied, the two parties will proceed to trial at a later date.

James Williams

While this is a hearing and there will be no public comment, please attend to show solidarity and support for the Union County commissioners.

OSFR was present at the regular county commission meeting tonight, June 17, 2019.  New at Union Co. is the addition of a County Coordinator, who is James Williams.

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





FINAL VOTE, ADOPTION PUBLIC HEARING FOR THE UNION COUNTY MINING LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS AMENDMENT.

 

FINAL VOTE, ADOPTION PUBLIC HEARING FOR THE UNION COUNTY MINING LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS AMENDMENT.

This is the culmination of three year’s work to preserve Union County from mining devastation by a big corporation.  We need you to come out to support the commissioners who have put themselves on the line to lead the county in the direction that the majority of its citizens want, not in the interests of money and corporations who would rip up the land for a few bucks.

Come and bring a friend, and please stand, state your name, and say thank you to the commissioners for doing the right thing.  This decision and this work by the Commission has not come easy and has not been without a price.  We need to show our gratitude by saying thanks, the very least we can do if we value our river and aquifer.

Monday, December 17, 5 o’clock at the courthouse, 15 NE 1st Street in Lake Butler.




Multiple Important Lessons Learned Here

 

Multiple lessons of importance can be learned from the following article here hidden away in the Citrus County Chronicle.

One is that corporations or municipalities which have toxic waste material they want to dispose of, will not blink an eye when faced with trucking it hundreds of miles away.  Lesson here is that a ban on fracking, biosolids disposal, or other toxic operations must also include a ban on toxic waste disposal, an integral part of the operation.

Another thing exposed here is the manner of operation of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.  Perhaps because the DEP customarily gives better protection to industry than the welfare if Florida’s citizens,  they did not bother to consult or alert Citrus County authorities about the small matter of 30,000 tons of arsenic-tainted sludge headed for their county.  County officials learned of this plan through the Citrus County Chronicle.

Does this not remind us of the monster Mosaic sinkhole, news of which came through a Tampa TV station and not our DEP?

The third and most important lesson here is power of home rule:  that the Citrus County Commissioners had the gumption, foresight and integrity to represent their constituents and exert the power invested in them by their position as county leaders.  They did their job even though it meant saying no to industrial corporations and our industry-loving DEP.

Cheers to the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners.

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


City says its sludge will bypass Citrus County

The city of Fort Myers says toxic sludge will not be sent to the LafargeHolcim quarry north of Crystal River.

Faced with a potential legal fight with Citrus County over a large pile of toxic sludge, the city of Fort Myers has said it will truck the material directly to Alabama without a stopover in Crystal River.

The city’s consultant announced the new transportation plan Wednesday and sent a flyer to residents in the Dunbar neighborhood saying the removal of sludge material would begin Thursday morning.

Prior plans, heading back to late August when the city approved the $3.2 million material removal proposal, said it would be trucked to the LafargeHolcim limestone quarry north of Crystal River, where it would be mixed with limestone and then sent by barge to Alabama.

The city’s notice to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection filed Wednesday omit Crystal River from the disposal plan.

Instead, it says the material will be loaded into trucks and transported directly to the LafargeHolcim concrete plant in Theodore, Alabama.

“The dump trucks will travel via major highways from Fort Myers to the LafargeHolcim cement plant in Theodore, Alabama,” the notice from PPM Consultants reads. “At this location, the material will be beneficially reused in the manufacturing process to make cement.”

Citrus County Administrator Randy Oliver was unaware of the latest development. A reporter sent him a copy of the flyer that was provided early Wednesday evening to the Chronicle by WINK-TV in Fort Myers.

The city posted the revised transportation plan on a DEP document webpage.

That the city’s consultant planned to truck 30,000 tons of arsenic-tainted sludge to the Crystal River facility came as a shock to Citrus County officials, who learned of it through a Chronicle story in early September.

Citrus officials contacted top DEP officials, including Secretary Noah Valenstein, who assured them the sludge disposal plan would have Citrus County’s approval before the material was trucked out of Fort Myers.

Citrus commissioners, though, were skeptical of that promise. Not only did they tell Fort Myers to keep the sludge away from the county, they authorized County Attorney Denise Dymond Lyn to file a lawsuit to stop the transport if that became necessary.

In late October, the project manager from Fort Myers, a representative of LafargeHolcim subsidiary GeoCycle, and a high-ranking DEP official all appeared before the county commission, hoping to convince commissioners that the material is safe for transport and processing at the facility north of Crystal River.

They left no further along than when they arrived.

“Our residents don’t want it. I’m going to stick to that,” Commissioner Scott Carnahan said at the time. “Find someplace else for it. You need to figure out something else because we don’t want it here.”

With the exception of Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith, the board was unified in rejecting the material regardless of review. Smith said the county should accept it if DEP approved.

The issue went silent over much of November, with Citrus officials unable to learn anything new. Oliver said shortly before Thanksgiving that a DEP official told him that the city was exploring alternatives to bringing the material to Crystal River. He had heard nothing since then.

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or [email protected].




Important Meeting Union Co. On Oct. 15, 5 O’clock

 

On Monday, Oct. 15, 2018,  at  5 o’clock, Union County will have a Public Workshop on the Land Development Regulations Concerning Mining, and at 5:45 they will consider and vote on the Comprehensive Plan Amendment at 5:45 pm, so please come out and show your support.

The finalized vote is still set for December 17, 2018, so please keep that extremely important date open.

Come out, stand up, say you oppose the mine.  GET ON THE RECORD.

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


 

 

 

 




STOP THE MINE 945 N. Temple Ave, Starke, Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, 6:30 pm.

945 N. Temple Ave, Starke, Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, 6:30 pm.

Following is the agenda for Bradford Co.  on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.  Please come out and stand up and say you oppose the mine. That is all that is required to put that opposition in the record.  Tell the commissioners that the people do not want the mine.  Yes we can beat big money.  We can and we will win this fight.  Come and be part of it and help save New River and the Santa Fe.

Get ready for the final action by the board, probably in January of 2019.  Come Thursday and say no to the mine.

Thanks to Kate Ellison for sending this agenda.

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


 




Take Action Tuesday! Bradford County Commission Meeting Tuesday morning at 9:30.

 

Thanks to Kate Ellison for the following:

If you are available and live nearby, please show up Tuesday morning to give them an earful. Citizens expected three workshops on the phosphate mining issue. Citizens do not want this mine to ruin our communities. If you are unable to attend, you are always welcome to write a letter or call your commissioner. And keep Sept. 20, 6:30 PM open for the possibility of packing the meeting that night too!

Things are happening in Bradford and Union Counties! There will be another email soon about a second Bradford Environmental Forum on Saturday, September 8, and a Union County Update.

Take Action Tuesday!

Bradford County Commission Meeting Tuesday morning at 9:30. 945 N Temple Ave., Starke
Why?      Suddenly there is a fast-track to approval
(or not) of the phosphate mining permit application.

As you may know, Bradford County has an updated Master Mining Plan and Operating Permit Application submitted by HPS II in April of this year. You may also know Bradford County hired Onsite Environmental Consultants (OEC) to evaluate the permit relative to the Land Development Regulations we have in place (since they refused to implement a Moratorium and update their regulations before accepting a complex new permit like this one).

NOW, suddenly, after slow-walking the permit application for two years, they want to finish it immediately! On Tuesday morning they will schedule a dual purpose meeting in October, to have OEC present their report, then follow it up that evening with a quasi-judicial hearing with lawyers from both sides, and make a decision.

This is remarkable, and we can only surmise they are afraid that the November election will have consequences: no more Rick Scott anti-environmental deregulation. What if our Water Management Districts and Department of Environmental Protection were willing and able to enforce the laws that should be protecting us, our land and our water? Could it be that HPS is nervous and signaled to the Commissioners they better get this approved now?

We don’t know why this is happening, but we are hoping to show citizen concern has not fallen away. We have to raise money, pay lawyers, get them up to speed, and assemble our experts. Then we will be ready for the hearing. If we have to do that before the end of October, we will really be scrambling!




Lake Butler, Mon. Aug. 20, 2018, at 5:30, 15 NE First St.

 

 

Go to this LINK to see the links to the documents pertaining to the Aug. 20 meeting.  You will see that the land use plan within the Union County Comprehensive Plan will have its first public hearing.  Go this this LINK to see the agendas, starting at 5:30.  Meetings will be in normal board chambers, 15 NE First St.

We believe this is the meeting originally scheduled in April, but delayed until all details were finished.  If so, there will be workshops to come, and then hearings for the regulations amendment. The original LDR schedule seems to have been removed from the Union website, so we don’t know the subsequent plans as yet.

Please come out and support these brave commissioners who are trying to preserve Union Co. for its residents.

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





Union Co. LDRs On Agenda Support the Commissioners

15 NE 1st Street, Lake Butler, FL 32054 , FL at 5:45 Monday May 21, 2018

The mining LDRs will be on the agenda and voted on at this meeting.

Please come out and support the commissioners.  Just stand and say for the record that you support the new LDRs to prevent a phosphate coming to Union Co.

Our river needs protection.  Our aquifer is already in decline. Stop the mine.  Your help is needed.

 




CALL TO ACTION: MINE ON AGENDA AT BRADFORD BOCC MONDAY MAY 7, 2018 9:30

Monday morning May 7, 2018, 945 N Temple Ave. Starke, FL.

Come to Bradford BOCC meeting in Starke, 945 N Temple Ave. at 9:30, when the mine will be discussed.

Here is a link from the Bradford Co. web page:  http://www.bradfordcountyfl.gov/vertical/sites/%7BC9D8F2D5-DCBD-4D45-8E72-D9739377D7DB%7D/uploads/5-7-18_Packet.pdf

bradfordMay2 003Sexton
Will Sexton

The mine is referenced from about pages 41 through 86.  Here we see that Bradford Co. staff County Attorney Will Sexton has been meeting with HPS II regarding the OEC consultant’s report.  It appears that HPS II does not like what is said in the report because it gives a negative opinion of the mining proposal.

It is our opinion that if HPS II pays for the report and wants the report re-written or amended to their desires, and if Bradford allows this, the report is totally null and void.   That is simply HPS II paying 53  thousand for a mining permit.

Come to the meeting and tell  the Bradford commissioners to reject this permit, following the expert advice of Dennis Price and the opinion of Mr. Schrueder, subconsultant of Onsite Environmental Consultants.

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


 

 




Tues. Jan. 16, 2018—–Important Meeting in Union County

 

This is the final vote on the moratorium extension and will take place at 15 NE 1st Street, Lake Butler, FL 32054 | (386) 496-4241).  This is the regular meeting place of the board of county commissioners, and is the Union County courthouse.  The meeting begins at 5 pm, but come when you can, later is ok if necessary.

Please come to support these brave commissioners.  If you oppose the mine, please stand and say so.  That is all you need to do.  This very important because it will go into the record and gives support to the commissioners.  They need this and you can help by doing it.

Some 0f  the following is old, some new:

We have been told by locals that the Union County commissioners have been subjected to pressure from HPS II personnel or their lawyer, to turn and support the mine.  Some of the commissioners are friends and neighbors  and/or went to school with some of the family of the mine proponents and are under immense pressure to give in to the mine.  They need your support, and at the very least we must come out and thank them for doing the right thing for the future of Union County and the generations to come who will enjoy the Santa Fe River.

Also at this meeting,  the Comprehensive Plan Amendment will be discussed for transmittal to Tallahassee for review.  Please come to this meeting and tell the commissioners that you hope they will extend this moratorium until December of 2018 to give the county time to amend their LDRs to discourage phosphate mining there.

Later, at the April 16, 2018 meeting, the commissioners will discuss and vote on approving or rejecting the Mining Comprehensive Plan.  This is an important meeting and will perhaps make or break what happens in Union County regarding mining for phosphate.  Depending on the results,  mining in Bradford could also be affected, either positively or negatively.

Above all, please keep in mind that this threat of a phosphate mine in Union and Bradford Counties is the most egregious threat to date to our Santa Fe River and its environs.  If this mine becomes reality, our river could be destroyed for generations to come in one day, in one storm, in one accident that we know happens in the mining industry.

We have seen what has happened when Mosaic destroyed  the Alafia River by an  “accidental” spill.  Working mines have accidents.  They say “sorry” and continue on.  The damage stays on for generations, but the company continues on making money at the citizens’ expense.  If the damage is too great, the company walks away, begins new enterprises in another state, and the state and the nation must clean up their mess, and we, the taxpayers, foot the bill, in the millions. This has already happened in Florida and is now happening in Mississippi.

We have heard arguments supporting the mine which say” all we have in Hamilton County is the PCS mine.”  Or, “Mosaic is the only employer we have down here.” Stop and ask yourself,  why is that?  What else is left after a mine comes in?  And in the case of Hamilton County, where the phosphate is running out, what will happen then?  What is left?  If we think of our future, we will not want a mine.

No company has the right to put at risk our natural resources.  Phosphate companies get permits to draw down our aquifer and dry up our springs, and they have accidents that pour poison into our drinking water.  They do not have the right to contaminate our world in their quest to make money.  No product that they produce is more valuable than our springs and rivers.  We need our natural resources more than we need their phosphate and fertilizer.

Please be aware that if we do nothing (and here “we” means you) the mine will happen.  The mine will go in and rip up the land and destroy the vegetation and the wildlife, the drainage system, and everything living there.  And afterwards, nothing will ever be the same.

We must act, we must take the effort to go to Lake Butler and Starke and tell the people in power, that we do not want this mine.   Please come to these meetings and help stop this destructive  intent.

If you value our rivers and springs, come out to these meetings and voice your opinion.  That is what these meetings are for.

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


 




FIGHT THE MINE! SAVE THE RIVER!

 

Support the Santa Fe River!

OSFR is partnering with Citizens Against Phosphate Mining (CAPM) to fight the proposed HPSII phosphate mine which would operate over 11,000 acres in Bradford and Union Counties straddling the New River which flows into the Santa Fe River.  This mining operation threatens the already impaired ecosystem of the rivers, springs and aquifer by the required extraction of millions of gallons of additional water from the aquifer and the potential release of toxins and chemicals in recharge areas.  “Fight the Mine” donations will help OSFR and CAPM further educate the public about this mining operation by funding mail campaigns, banners, PSA’s and other educational tools.  Help us “Fight the Mine” and save our rivers, springs and drinking water from further degradation.

Please visit, donate and share this donation site.    CLICK HERE

Thank you.  Every little bit helps.