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Once again there are people in Florida who are worried for the safety of their water, both drinking and bathing. People in Florida also have learned with reason to be wary of assurances from governing agencies. Silence from the company that runs the community’s drinking water source also breeds suspicion.
More reasons that, no matter if mining is involved or not in this case, we don’t need a phosphate mine on the banks of the Santa Fe River.
Read the complete article here in the Sun Port Charlotte.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Well in Punta Gorda tests for radioactivity
When Charlie Goodman heard about Mosaic Fertilizer monitoring radionuclides in the water it discharges, he thought of the water in his own community.
A manufactured home community of about 60 homes on Hunter Creek Drive earlier this year received notice from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that their water had exceeded the allowable levels for radium isotopes. Both Mosaic and the small residential community are located on the Peace River.
It’s not an emergency, DEP told the community in the March 27 notice.
And it’s not Mosaic, a manager of the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Authority told the Sun. Those operations are too far away to affect a well in Punta Gorda, said Mike Coates, deputy director of the authority.
The company that runs the community’s drinking water source, U.S. Water Services Corporation of Cape Coral, did not return calls for comment from the Sun. They haven’t responded to residents either, Goodman said.
“No updates. No return calls when we call,” Goodman wrote.
On two testing occasions in February, water samples from the well exceeded the maximum contaminant level of 5 picocuries, set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The highest level was 7.33 picocuries. The water quality report sent to residents had an “N” in the column: “MCL Violations Y/N.”
U.S. Water Services did respond to the DEP, according to DEP spokesperson Alexandra Kuchta. The company submitted a preventive maintenance plan to state regulators, including plans for additional cleaning of the reverse osmosis membranes. They have also replaced all of the O-rings, Kuchta said.
DEP will test the well again for radium 226 and 228 on July 10.
Goodman said he is not drinking the water. He and his neighbors worry about bathing in it.
What are radionuclides and why do thoughts run to Mosaic, which operates phosphate mining some miles up the Peace River and fertilizer manufacturing even further up river?
Florida’s sediments are high in phosphorus, and phosphorus has these low level radioactive particles, said Mike Coates.
Alpha particles are considered dangerous to health over time when inhaled or consumed, but not so much from open air exposure because they can’t penetrate the skin, according to EPA.
“Some of the public and private wells in our county, and many more north of you up the Peace River ‘bone valley’ and down Highway 31 into Lee County have naturally occurring radionuclides deposited there eons ago that are leaching into the groundwater,” Bob Vincent, the state Department of Health’s water consultant told the Sun. “These rads are lifetime exposure concerns that can increase a person’s bone cancer risk after consumption for several decades.”
The DEP notice states that some people may be at increased risk, including those with compromised immune systems, infants, women who are pregnant or the elderly.
One of those categories, the elderly, makes up the bulk of the River’s Edge community, Goodman said. Most are now back north for the season, he said. This is helpful for them as they are not able to lug the amount of drinking water they need, he said, or otherwise pursue this issue.
Alpha particle contamination can be reduced, the experts agreed.
“Fortunately, they are easily removed from the water with water softening ion exchange or reverse osmosis,” Vincent said….
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