This land is still beautiful, but for how long? Four families and a couple of extras want to rip it up, turn it upside down, and leave it forever a wasteland, after having killed all life, plants and animals, leaving behind toxic waste. That is their right, but not to poison our aquifer rivers and air. Not to put at risk New River and the Santa Fe River downstream to the Suwannee.
Thanks to Dr. Steve Pieczenik who sponsored this trip, and to navigator and Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman, pilot Roy Zimmer of Southwings, and to Carol Burton local guide and pathfinder, who made possible today an overflight of the proposed HPS II Enterprises phosphate mine in Union and Bradford Counties.
This is a view of Hwy 231 as it crosses the New River, looking north. To the right is Bradford County and to the left is Union. HPS wants to mine on both sides, and all the land in this photo belongs to the mine owners. These families are extremely wealthy, yet they want to destroy the earth and put our river at risk to acquire even more money. This river crossing was the site of a cleanup by Suwannee St Johns Sierra Club North Florida Working Group last spring, which includes several OSFR members.
The waters you see in this photo also are the home of some of the last oval pig-toe mussels on this planet. They would almost certainly be destroyed if this mine goes through. Our “protective” agencies will most likely issue the mine permits, as they almost always side with industry if it comes down to the environment or money.
This was once Fern Pond in Union County. We were told the land owner, who is one of the four families of HPS II, drained it without the necessary permit and sent it into the Santa Fe River.
Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) compressor station, 14535 County Rd 231, Brooker.
‘A couple of 24″ and 30″ natural gas pipelines run west to east across the New River right through the HPS II mine site, turning at the Brooker FGT compressor station to head northeast as 16″ and 20″ pipelines to Jacksonville, carrying Sabal Trail fracked methane from Suwannee County for export from Duval County through Eagle LNG and Crowley Maritime.”
The above quote from WWALS article about this pipeline going through the proposed mine area.
This is a view of Brooker, Florida, home base of HPS II Enterprises. looking north, this is mine property for about as far as one can see. The beneficiation plant would likely be just north of town. The City of Brooker strongly opposes this mine, which would change forever this pastoral scene into industrial devastation. Residents would move away and newcomers would go elsewhere instead of moving here.
Another view of the likely site of the mine headquarters. This would be the east boundary of the mine in Bradford County, with everything toward the left included in the mine.
View of Worthington Springs looking south, with the bridge over the Santa Fe River on Highway 121. One retention pond spill due to a heavy rain or hurricane could ruin for generations this beautiful river. This is exactly what happened to the Alafia River in Hillsborough County near Tampa on the Mosaic mine.
Property rights are not an issue when the land owner cannot guarantee he will not ruin our water and air. These belong to everyone and not to HPS Enterprises. The recent sinkhole in Polk County revealed that without a doubt, our Department of Environmental Protection protects the corporation and considers the individual citizen expendable, i.e., not as important as the industry. They let people drink water for nearly three weeks after they knew about the sinkhole without telling the public, knowing full well that the water was very possibly contaminated.
We must add that Mosaic, equally guilty of a cowardly coverup, later showed a little class by apologizing to the public. Our leaders in Tallahassee did not issue an apology, they only said that they followed the law. One assumes from this that they considered that their obligation, not the welfare of the public.
This is not leadership and this is not protection.
So we do not need this threat in Union and Bradford Counties. Do a little research and you will see that neither do we need the phosphate.
Accidents are common and deadly with phosphate mines.
Our loyal flight crew: Suwannee Riverkeeper and navigator John Quarterman, also of WWALS, generous and master pilot Roy Zimmer with One X-Ray, his reliable Cessna 206, and hardworking Carol Burton, who spent hours acquiring maps and surveying the area. Thanks also to Becky Parker and Cindy North for their knowledge, consultation and help. Again, thanks to Southwings and Amanda Wheelock and to Dr. Steve Pieczenik whose sponsorship made the flight possible.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-