3PR News: Conflict of Interest with Army Corps’ AEIS Contractor

Originally posted on the Bradenton Times: www.thebradentontimes.com.

Ecology Party Alleges Major Conflict of Interest with Army Corps of Engineers’ Phosphate Mining EIS Contractor

The Bradenton Times
Published Saturday, April 30, 2011 2:00 am
by Ecology Party of Florida

JACKSONVILLE – The Ecology Party of Florida has discovered a direct conflict of interest with CH2M Hill, the engineering firm awarded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) contract for preparing the Areawide Environmental Impact Statement (AEIS) of phosphate mining. The AEIS is supposed to determine all of the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of phosphate mining in Florida, including groundwater pirated from the Everglades watershed by the phosphate mining companies.

One of the adverse impacts of phosphate mining is that a hazardous form of fluoride is produced as one of the mining by-products. Instead of properly disposing of this hazardous waste, phosphate mining companies such as Mosaic, one of the companies with mines being evaluated under the AEIS, “dispose” of the hazardous fluoride by selling it to be dumped into municipal water systems throughout the US as fluoridation of our tap water.

“While preparing comments for the Army Corps’ initial public comment period regarding issues to be addressed in the AEIS we discovered that the Army privatized its water and wastewater systems at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in 2007 in a 50-year deal with CH2M Hill. In that deal CH2M Hill produces fluoridated water for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and any other military personnel at Fort Campbell,” says Cara Campbell, Chair of the Ecology Party of Florida.

“That arrangement means CH2M Hill is using the Army as a lucrative market for the hazardous fluoride produced by the mining companies that the Army Corps hired CH2M Hill to evaluate in the AEIS,” Campbell explained. “If that sounds convoluted, that’s because it is, and in our opinion, that conflict of interest makes it impossible for CH2M Hill to produce an unbiased AEIS. Therefore, we have requested that the Army Corps select another contractor to administer the AEIS,” says Campbell.

Ecology Party Treasurer Gary Hecker adds, “In addition to that conflict of interest, CH2M Hill also is the contractor for water utilities in Florida, like the City of Cocoa, that fluoridate municipal water, then dispose of that fluoridated water into our streams, lakes and coastal waters or inject it into our aquifer. CH2M Hill, for example, was contracted by Miami-Dade to inject fluoridated sewage effluent into the aquifer. The corporation also has been awarded contracts for designing, modeling, constructing and/or monitoring engineered approaches marketed as “alternative” water supplies such as “aquifer storage and recovery” (ASR) and excavated pits known as “reservoirs” in areas of Florida where natural water resources have been depleted or contaminated by mining, such as the Tampa Bay area “reservoir” which is located in the phosphate mining area. Clearly these additional conflicts further underscore the impossibility of having such a company evaluate mining impacts in an unbiased way.”

Information regarding the AEIS for phosphate mining is posted at: www.PhospateAEIS.org

Mosaic Suspends LA Operations

May 10, 2011 5:07 PM ET
PLYMOUTH, Minn., May 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The Mosaic Company MOS today announced it will temporarily shut down its Louisiana operations due to the impact of the Mississippi River flooding on its electrical power supplies. Operations will resume when river water levels recede and conditions permit. The Company also noted that its ammonia plant at this location is temporarily idled for repairs following a recent incident.
Mosaic’s Louisiana operations include Faustina, which produces diammonium phosphate and ammonia, and its Uncle Sam facility, which produces phosphoric, sulfuric and fluosilicic acid.
These matters are not expected to have a material impact on Mosaic’s operations or financial results.

3PR News: UF Researchers Extract P from H2O

http://news.ufl.edu/2011/05/11/water-purification/

UF researchers develop method to remove phosphate from water, using biochar

Filed under Environment, Florida, Research on Wednesday, May 11, 2011.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Phosphate poses one of Florida’s ongoing water-quality challenges but a process developed by University of Florida researchers could provide an affordable solution, using partially burned organic matter called biochar to remove the mineral.

The process also yields methane gas usable as fuel and phosphate-laden carbon suitable for enriching soil, according to Bin Gao and Pratap Pullammanappallil, assistant professors in UF’s agricultural and biological engineering department, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Crop wastes would provide raw material for the biochar.

A laboratory study demonstrating the effectiveness of biochar for phosphate removal appears in the current issue of the journal Bioresource Technology.

The study involved beet tailings, which are culled beets, scraps and weeds removed from shipments of sugar beets destined for processing to make sugar, said Gao, one of the authors. In the U.S., sugar beets are grown primarily in the Northeast and upper Midwest, but the technology can be adapted to other materials, he said. “It’s really sustainable,” Gao said. “We will see if it can be commercialized.”

UF has filed a patent application for the phosphate-removal process, Gao said. Wastewater treatment facility representatives have shown interest in the technology, he said.

Phosphate is used to make fertilizers, pesticides and detergents. Florida produces about one-fourth of the world’s phosphate. Florida’s surface waters sometimes contain large amounts of phosphate, arising from natural sources or human activity. Because the chemical can spur algae growth, it has caused water-quality concerns in some communities.

Some water treatment plants filter phosphate from wastewater but existing methods have drawbacks, including high cost, low efficiency and hazardous byproducts.

In the study, researchers started by collecting solid residues left after beet tailings were fermented in a device called an anaerobic digester, which yields methane gas. The material was baked at about 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit to make biochar.

The biochar was added to a water-and-phosphate solution and mixed for 24 hours. It removed about three-fourths of the phosphate, much better results than researchers obtained with other compounds, including commercial water-treatment materials. The phosphate-laden biochar can be applied directly to soils as a slow-release fertilizer. The research team plans to investigate whether biochar could remove nitrogen from wastewater. Nitrogen can stimulate algae growth in surface water.

The research team has also been testing the potential for biochar to purify water of heavy metals including lead and copper, he said. Part of the challenge involves pinpointing raw materials with the greatest affinity for a particular contaminant. And used biochar packed with toxic metals would have to be regenerated or handled as hazardous waste.

Previous UF studies have demonstrated the potential value of producing methane gas by fermenting crop waste. Pullammanappallil specializes in this area and regularly collaborates with Gao on biochar studies.

Perhaps the biggest challenge researchers face is making biomass technology more cost-effective. Pullammanappallil recently helped design, build and operate an anaerobic digester at an American Crystal Sugar Company facility in Moorhead, Minn.

The digester processed beet tailings like those used in the study, and worked well, said Dave Malmskog, the company’s business development director at Moorhead. But when the research grant funding the project ended, the company found it wasn’t practical to continue.

Nonetheless, the researchers remain optimistic that the process can be made cost-effective.

“Florida agricultural industries could benefit,” Pullammanappallil said. “You could do this with any biomass — sugarcane bagasse, citrus pulp.”

Writer Tom Nordlie, tnordlie@ufl.edu ,352-273-3567
Source Bin Gao, bg55@ufl.edu, 352-392-1864 ext. 285
Source Pratap Pullammanappallil, pcpratap@ufl.edu, 352-392-1864 ext. 203

3PR News: CF Industries: “We think we’re a great environmental citizen…”

NEW YORK, May 18 (Reuters) – Fertilizer producer CF Industries Holdings Inc (CF.N) has benefited from rival Mosaic’s (MOS.N) legal troubles at a Florida phosphate mine expansion, CF’s CEO said on Tuesday.
Last summer, the Sierra Club environmental group sued to stop Mosaic from expanding phosphate rock production at its mine in South Fort Meade, Florida. The group claims the surface mining process damages the Florida watershed. CF, which operates a nearby mine, has so far been spared the legal scrutiny mostly because it has not yet aggressively pursued permits to expand production. “The biggest advantage that we have is that Mosaic went first,” CF CEO Steve Wilson said at the BMO Capital Markets Farm to Market Conference in New York. “We empathize with what they’re dealing with.

CF has begun the paperwork needed to expand its phosphate capacity by nine to 10 years’ worth of supply, Wilson said.He told Reuters he would talk with any interested party, including the Sierra Club. He acknowledged the mine expansion would be a “difficult task.” “We think we’re a great environmental citizen,” he said. “But this will take time.”Separately, Wilson said CF has no plans to build a nitrogen fertilizer plant in the United States due to concerns over carbon legislation.
“The economics in the U.S. are very favorable, but the specter of regulation of carbon looms over us,” Wilson said. “We don’t have certainty.”The production of ammonia, a key part of the nitrogen fertilizer process, produces large amounts of carbon dioxide.

The company’s facility in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, on the Mississippi River about 64 miles west of New Orleans, is operating fine, Wilson said. That is because when the facility was being built, an engineer installed the facility’s electric supply well above a dike that holds back the river, he said. Shares of CF, which is based in a Chicago suburb, rose 4.4 percent to close Tuesday at $140.19. The stock has traded between $57.57 and $153.83 in the past 52 weeks.

Read more: http://neworleans.ibtimes.com/articles/148364/20110519/cf-mosaic-s-fla-mine-woes-ceo.htm#ixzz1MrDWWLXw

Piney Point phosphate plant leaking again, threatening Tampa Bay

By Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Saturday, June 4, 2011

http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/water/article1173511.ece
________________________________________

Piney Point, the shuttered phosphate plant that once threatened to flood Tampa Bay with contaminated waste, is leaking again, and state officials are once again rushing to stop a potential disaster. Meanwhile, millions of gallons of potentially polluted water are flushing into the bay.
The old plant, built in 1966, sits across from Port Manatee about a mile from Bishop Harbor at the southeastern edge of the bay. The port has been dredging a shipping berth, and had hired a contractor to dump the spoil atop the Piney Point phosphogypsum stack.
The dredge disposal began in April. On May 11, something went wrong.
“Apparently, there was a leak,” said Steve Tyndal, Port Manatee’s special projects director.
The contractor, HRK Holding, noticed a sudden drop in pressure and notified state officials.
“There was water coming out of that stack,” said Suzanne Cooper of the Agency on Bay Management, an arm of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.
Workers found pieces of torn liner — liner that was supposed to hold any liquid in the reservoir atop the stack where they had been putting the dredged material.
As a result, “we believe the tear may have been caused by mechanical equipment,” said state Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller. HRK officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.
State officials feared the gypsum stack would collapse, dumping radioactive material and other contaminants into the bay. To relieve the pressure, the DEP issued an emergency order May 28 to dump the liquid into ditches that flow into Bishop Harbor, but monitor it for harmful pollutants.
They estimate the amount atop the stack was 150 million gallons.
So far what has been flowing out at the rate of more than 2,000 gallons a minute appears to be nothing but seawater from the dredged spoil, say DEP officials, but they are checking for contaminants such as nitrogen, phosphorus and chloride, as well as other harmful pollutants. Test results should be available next week.
Environmental attorney Tom Reese questioned two years ago whether putting the dredged material atop the stack was a good idea.
“I thought the water would weigh too much,” he said. Engineers assured him there was no problem. No one expected mechanical equipment would get close enough to rip the liner, he said.
The DEP took over the Piney Point plant just south of the Hills¬borough-Manatee county line in 2001 when the owners went bankrupt and walked away. The DEP worked to drain off the watery waste atop the plant’s mountainous gypsum stacks, but record rains in 2002 added more than 200 million gallons of waste, leading to fears it would spill into the bay and devastate sea life for miles around.
So the DEP began discharging millions of gallons of ammonia-laden Piney Point waste into ditches flowing into nearby Bishop Harbor, spurring a large algae bloom.
As hurricane season loomed, DEP officials got federal permission for an unprecedented step: loading millions of gallons of treated waste onto barges that sprayed it across a 20,000 square mile area in the Gulf of Mexico.

[Last modified: Jun 03, 2011 10:30 PM]

Environmental Groups Seek Second Halt to a Mosaic Phosphate Mine

More than 100 phosphate mining jobs are at stake in the dispute.
By Kevin Bouffard
The Ledger
Published: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 10:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 10:35 p.m.

Read article here

HAINES CITY | Environmental groups are taking another crack at getting a federal injunction to halt a Mosaic phosphate mine in Hardee County.
The Sierra Club and two local environmental groups on Tuesday asked Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. of federal district court in Jacksonville to issue a new injunction before July 7, when an earlier Adams injunction expires. In April, the Mosaic Co. announced plans to mine an additional 700 acres of disputed land early next month.
The tract is part of a 10,583-acre extension of the company’s South Fort Meade Mine that has been the subject of a yearlong legal battle. The lawsuit challenges a mining permit issued last year by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Mosaic announced its mining plan for the 700 acres shortly after the 11th District U.S. Appeals Court in Atlanta vacated Adams’ June 2010 injunction against the entire Hardee mine. It sent the case back to Adams and left his injunction in effect for 90 days to allow the judge time for a new ruling after further review.

The 90-day period expires July 7, but Adams has indicated he may not complete his review by then.
In its Tuesday filing, the Sierra Club claims new mining would cause irreparable and irreversible harm to the environment on the 700 acres, affecting the headwaters of the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor estuary.
Mosaic counters the mining will occur only on “uplands areas” that are not as environmentally sensitive as wetlands, as Adams ruled in his 2010 injunction decision.
“We’re perplexed. The (environmentalists) are contradicting themselves,” Mosaic spokesman Russell Schweiss said in an email Wednesday. “Upland mining does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Corps permit, and we firmly believe their argument is invalid.”
About 98 percent of the 700 acres consists of uplands, and mining operations can avoid about 16 acres of wetlands, he said.
Mosaic has been mining on 200 acres of the Hardee tract under a November agreement with the environmental groups. But that area will be mined out this month, the company said.
Mosaic had laid off about 140 South Fort Meade workers before rehiring them after the November agreement.

[ Kevin Bouffard can be reached at kevin.bouffard@theledger.com or at 863-422-6800. Follow his Northeast Polk updates on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NEPolkbeat. ]

3 PR News: Mosaic Wants Its Money Back from Hardee

Note: One can only be astounded by the way Mosaic phosphate company conducts its business in Hardee County. The following headline article was published in our local newspaper The Herald Advocate.
Background: In August of 2008 at the time the Hardee County Commission issued a Development Order for the South Fort Meade Mine Extension an additional separate “development agreement” was also approved – designed to provide economic mitigation for the adverse impacts that the mine would have on Hardee County. The two principals representing Mosaic and Hardee County respectively were Parker Keene and Bill Lambert. The agreement was for the mining company to pay about $4 million per year for 10 years to Hardee County’s Economic Development Authority – headed by Lambert. The funds were meant to be used to develop an alternative local economy in anticipation of the day when the phosphate resources of Hardee County would be exhausted and the county would be left with 125,000 of post-mined land, 30,000 acres of it in clay slimes, degraded ground water and an economy with no engine.

Less than a year after the mining of the South Fort Meade Extension is underway Parker Keene, now a hired consultant, is at Lambert’s door asking for the money back – to fund Mosaic’s high-risk golf fantasy resort isolated in the the middle of the Bone Valley mining district which will supposedly embrace everything from wellness retreats to skeet-shooting….

Dennis Mader

Mosaic Wants Hardee $$$ For Polk Project
By

Michael Kelly of The Herald – Advocate
June 16, 2011

The Mosaic Company informed the Hardee County Industrial Development Authority it well apply for grant money for the mega multi-million-dollar luxury resort the company is building in Polk County.

The local grant money, overseen and awarded by the IDA stems from the 10-year, $42 million economic mitigation agreement previously reached between Mosaic and the county over the 10,583-acre South Fort Meade Mine extension into Hardee County.

Parker Keene, who recently retired from Mosaic and is working as a hired consultant, made the presentation concerning the project named “Streamsong,” to the IDA board on Tuesday morning.

Keene said the upscale resort development which will be located off the Fort Green Road a few miled across the Polk County line, is in the middle of Mosaic’s 250,000 acres of land. It will feature 222 guest rooms, a spa, guided bass fishing sporting clays and two 18 hole championship-level golf courses.

The project would create over 200 full-time jobs, according to Keene.

Because the resort will be situated 60 minutes from the Tampa airport and 90 minutes from the Orlando airport Mosaic is hoping it will attract business conferences and retreats as well as leisure travelers and golf enthusiasts.

The land was mined from the mid-1960s until two years ago, Keene said.

Mosaic is currently reclaiming the land, and will do so for the specific purpose of its post-mine use, which Keene said has never been done before.

He went on to say the resort would be operated by a management company and that eventually Mosaic would sell the resort to another company, such as Marriot or another main-stream resort corporation.

The resort would open in October of 2013.

Mosaic will be funding the cost of building the resort, but Keene did not want to disclose the total amount needed for the project. He said Polk County has agreed to a $17.6 million bond the company wojuld pay back over 30 years. Keene said he will come back before the Hardee County IDA in the future to ask for local money. He did not say how much the company would be asking for.

IDA Executive Director Bill Lambert could not disclose the dollar amount of the Mosaic request, but said it was significant.

Mosaic’s annual reports show the company’s net earning for the past 3 years was $5.2 billion.

3PR News: Recent Aerial Photos of S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension

These five aerial photos of the S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension/Hardee
were taken on June 22 by an anonymous 3PR pilot.

Area One is the 200 acres conceded to Mosaic in settlement agreement
in exchange for 14.2 acres of bayhead wetlands and 26 acres pasture.

As an unintended consequence of this settlement Mosaic moved 2 draglines east of
jurisdictional wetlands and positioned them to mine additional “upland” acreage
west of CR 664 A, shown in other photos.

The Environmental Plaintiffs are awaiting the District Court’s decision on our
motion to impose an additional preliminary injunction on Area Two.

Mosaic is poised to mine.

Florida phosphate issue – journalism awards

CONGRATULATIONS AND A 3PR COMMUNITY THANK YOU!
Dennis Mader wrote:
Congratulations, Doug!

We are very appreciative our your reporting on the radiation pollution in the mining district – although the regulatory establishment has not yet reacted to correct anything.

The link you sent is already making its way around the environmental community down here.

Thanks for the work you do,

Dennis Mader
3PR
——————————————————————
Sharing from our friend from Inside Washington Publishers
(Inside EPA’s Superfund Report)

On Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 3:16 PM, Doug Guarino
(clipped).. My reporting on the Florida phosphate issue won a couple of journalism awards last week. Everything at the following link is accessible to subscribers and non-subscribers alike, so feel free to pass along to colleagues or any other interested parties:

http://insideepa.com/Inside-EPA-General/Inside-EPA-Public-Content/inside-epa-wins-prize-from-society-of-professional-journalists/menu-id-565.html


Douglas P. Guarino
Associate Editor
Inside Washington Publishers
(Inside EPA’s Superfund Report)
1919 South Eads Street, Suite 201
Arlington, VA 22202
703-416-8518
fax:703-416-8543
mailto:dguarino@iwpnews.com