T. Mims Petition – Mosaic Mega-WUP

Click to read in entirety:  Mosaic Mims Hearing

Re: Petition for Hearing on the Approval of Individual Water Use Permit 20011400.025 also known as “Integrated Water Use Permit (IWUP)” issued to Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC, Permit Issue Date February 28,2012.
The T. Mims Corporation of Lakeland, a large land-owner, has petitioned the Florida Administrative Law court alleging serious irregularities in Mosaic’s proposed “Integrated Water Use Permit” (loosely known as “Mega-WUP”) which would allow world’s largest producer of phosphate fertilizer to withdraw 69 million gallons per day (MPG) from our (Florida’s) aquifer to satisfy their demand for water to run their mining and fertilizer production operations. The petition includes a 15-page review of the proposed SWFWMD permit by Mike Cotter, P.E. Among the allegations contained in the petition are numerous data on the negative effects of phosphate mining on the groundwater table and wetlands on properties surrounding the mines.

The Inherent Conflict

The following letter was published in Wauchula hometown newspaper, The Herald Advocate, April 3, 2012….

April 1, 2012

Dear Editor,

The lawsuit filed by FINR against CF Industries as reported in your March 29, 2012 edition (FINR Sues CF – Wants Quarter-Mile Setback) spotlights the conflict inherent in land-use for phosphate mining as opposed to other more desirable and environmentally benign uses as represented by FINR. It is clear that Mr. Brennick’s interests are the kind that we as a county should want to promote. His institute is the highest employer in the county at 600 jobs with intentions of expanding. (Both phosphate mining companies put together don’t employ that many people in Hardee County. Their long-range plans will result in a profound alteration of the natural habitat and drainage patterns of more than 100,000 acres of land in this county and the elimination of thousands of agricultural jobs.) 

Note the conditions Mr. Brennick sited that make his location desirable: “… the rural and peaceful setting” of his institute, “… and the peace and serenity it offers [the] clients.”  I hope the lesson that our local decision-makers (BOCC and Planning Board) will take home from this confrontation is that peace and serenity are assets for attracting certain desirable businesses and developments to our county. For the most part agricultural land-use is compatible with these assets, but phosphate mining is not, by the nature of its operation and treatment of the land, peaceful or serene.

The same issues were at stake in a recent mine hearing in Bradenton as voiced by the people of Winding Creek subdivision when they found out that Mosaic had intentions of expanding their mining operation on the adjacent Wingate Creek Mine. People generally consider the constant drone of pumps, the 24/7 operations of draglines and the resultant air and light pollution, alteration of groundwater flow, the threat of dam breaches and flooding a detriment to their quality of life.

I wish Mr. Brennick best of luck as the court hands down a decision. I hope our county leaders will familiarize themselves with the underlying issues in this lawsuit and how they will affect our future as we seek economic growth and stability as a county moving forward.

Dennis Mader

Lily

1997 Alafia River Acid Spill

Restoration Work Still to Be Completed After Alafia River Acid Spill
The 1997 spill from a fertilizer plant damaged 377 acres of riverine habitat.
Restoration-Work-Still-to-Be-Completed-After-Alafia-River-Acid-Spill

By Tom Palmer
THE LEDGER
Published: Monday, April 2, 2012 at 11:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 2, 2012 at 11:33 p.m.

MULBERRY | It’s been nearly 15 years since 56 million gallons of acidic waste water from the now-defunct Mulberry Phosphates fertilizer plant turned the Alafia River into a killing zone.
Much of the river has recovered naturally, as environmental systems eventually do in response to natural or man-made assaults.
But the $3.7 million settlement with Mulberry Phosphates’ insurance company in 2002 included $2.4 million to pay for habitat improvement in the freshwater sections of the river to compensate for the damage.
The December 1997 spill damaged 377 acres of riverine habitat and killed or injured any wildlife that couldn’t get out of the way quickly enough on Skinned Sapling Creek and the North Prong of the Alafia River on the outskirts of Mulberry.
The North Prong begins near Mulberry and joins the South Prong, which begins near Bradley, to form the main river channel in eastern Hillsborough County. The river flows to Hillsborough Bay in Riverview.
But the planned restoration won’t occur in the environmentally damaged land along the river in Polk County. Instead, scientists involved in the restoration planning issued a report in February recommending a restoration project in an environmental preserve about 15 miles southwest of the spill site.
The restoration work will occur in an area known as Stallion Hammock in Hillsborough County’s Balm-Boyette Scrub Preserve, a 4,933-acre public preserve and recreation area south of Brandon. Pringle Branch, a tributary of Fishhawk Creek, flows there. Fishhawk Creek is a tributary of the Alafia River.
The proposal involves restoring wetlands in an area that has been impacted by phosphate mining to improve water quality and wildlife habitat.
The 18-page report mentions other projects in the Mulberry area closer to the actual impact of the spill that were considered and rejected.
The report said the five projects were ruled out either because they involved work on private land or because they may not have produced significant environmental improvements or, if they did, would have required long-term monitoring and maintenance.
John Ryan, a Winter Haven environmentalist who was involved in efforts to make sure restoration occurred in upstream areas, said it doesn’t bother him that the final restoration plan will occur in another part of the river basin.
“It doesn’t make any sense to be parochial,” he said, adding that the important thing is that some restoration will occur.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Ana Gibbs said the report has been forwarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for review.
She said there was no time schedule for getting the work done, explaining that even after the plan gets the go-ahead, it will then require engineering plans and construction bids.
That means the work isn’t likely to occur until at least next year, she said.
[ Tom Palmer can be reached at tom.palmer@theledger.com or 863-802-7535. Read his blog on the environment at environment.blogs.theledger.com. Follow on Twitter @LedgerTom. ]

FINR Sues CF Industries

The attached article appeared on the front page of our local newspaper, The Hardee County Herald Advocate. Since the HA does not have an on-line presence I had to clip the article out and scan it.

The gist of it is that FINR, the Florida Institute for Neurological Rehabilitation, (largest employer in Hardee County) is suing CF Industries (one of two phosphate mining companies operating in central Florida) for encroaching on the institute’s 872 acre campus which lies just south adjacent to CF’s current mine expansion – the 7500 acre South Pasture Extension.) The lawsuit spotlights the conflict inherent in land-use for phosphate mining as opposed to other more desirable and environmentally benign uses as represented by FINR.

Stop Mosaic in Their Tracks

On Thursday, February 2, at 9 am, Mosaic Phosphate will go before the Manatee Board of County Commissioners to ask for another permit to mine in eastern Manatee County.  The permit would allow Mosaic to mine 661 acres and destroy another 50 acres of wetlands.  Our Planning Commission voted in favor of this permit and now it goes before the Board and this is where it must stop.

This $3.9 billion cash corporation has severely mined Central Florida (over one million acres) and is now coming south into Northeast Manatee County and our Peace River and Myakka River watersheds.  They draw 65 million gallons of water a day from our already declining aquifer, while we are on water restrictions. This water that they are stealing from the state is non-replaceable and will come to tremendous cost to us all.

Don’t be deceived by their showy ads on TV and their jobs claim.  Mosaic provides fewer workers per acre, than any other industry. They are currently spending millions of dollars monthly on advertising to convince you that they are doing a good thing.  Why would a company advertise so much and put large billboards on 301 when they do not sell their product to you?  They want to conceal the negative aspects of their operations which add billions of dollars of cleanup in its wake.

The Federal Courts have insisted Mosaic STOP any further mining until a complete and thorough Area-wide Environmental Impact Study (AEIS) has been performed. Evidently, Mosaic is in fear of the outcome, as they chose to circumvent the rules by attempting to secure another mine before the truth comes out.

Please stop Mosaic in their tracks, have the wisdom and courage that The Planning Commission lacked, and find out the real story.

Mosaic and their consenting codependents are counting on the apathy of Manatee citizens to get their way. Please, please, make an effort to show-up on Feb. 2, at 1112 Manatee Avenue, First Floor Commission Chambers and STOP this from going any further. We need to fill the chambers. You may or may not speak, but fill a chair.

We can’t leave our kids with enough of anything to fix what Mosaic is getting away with.

Placating a Disaster Prone Industry

Expanding Phosphate Mining… Seriously?

Published Sunday, January 15, 2012 12:10 am

by Dennis Maley

As the Manatee County Commission gets set to vote on a Duette phosphate mining expansion recommended for approval by the county’s planning commission, we need to again ask when Florida is going to seriously evaluate the cost/benefit ratio of placating such a disaster-prone industry that has brought relatively little to the table, considering the havoc it’s reeked on our state.

The history of phosphate mining in Florida has been, on the whole, nothing short of disastrous. Locally, our experience over the decades with the Piney Point site should have permanently saddled each resident with a bad taste in their mouth. It’s a dirty business that threatens our environment, while gobbling up precious water supplies and destroying vital wetlands.

Mining phosphates also leaves behind a toxic substance called phosphogypsum, a radioactive byproduct of processing the phosphate, for which no safe use has been found. Dozens of these “gypsum stacks” already line the Florida landscape, and acidic wastewater sits in lined ponds waiting for tears to happen like the one which sent millions of gallons of hazardous discharge into local waters last year. In a hurricane-rich state, these dangers are only heightened.

The mining operations also produce plenty of fluoride gases that once upon a time escaped into the air and poisoned surrounding agriculture and livestock. Pollution control technology like wet scrubbers have helped to contain the fluoride, but it still needs to be disposed of. That’s where you come in. While the FDA has never approved fluoride ingestion for medical use, your body acts as a free filtration system when municipalities buy the toxin from such companies (with your tax money) and dump it into your drinking water, ostensibly to to prevent cavities – a practice that’s been compared to drinking sunscreen lotion to protect from a burn.

For their part, the fertilizer companies promote economic impact, jobs and feeding the world in their multi-million dollar PR campaigns that not only shine the public perception, but also provide fat accounts (and conflicts of interest) for the media outlets that might otherwise be more blunt in their assessments of the industry. But the fact remains, the biggest mining counties in the state are also the most economically depressed and the industry is among the least labor intensive, employing only a handful of people per acre of land mined.

Considering our experience with phosphate mining already, along with the future potential impact of the mining that’s already been done, it doesn’t seem sustainable or desirable to continue going down this path with a resource-intensive industry whose footprint long outlasts the short term and seemingly short-sided benefits.

Dennis Maley is a featured columnist and editor for The Bradenton Times. His column appears every Thursday and Sunday on our site and in our free Weekly Recap and Sunday Edition. He can be reached at dennis.maley@thebradentontimes.com.

Wingate Mine Extension Approved by Manatee Planning Commission

Mosaic request gets nod of Manatee planning panel
Planners give preliminary OK to mine extension

http://www.bradenton.com/2012/01/13/3788734/mosaic-request-gets-nod-of-panel.html

By SARA KENNEDY – skennedy@bradenton.com

MANATEE — A plan to extend a phosphate mine over 661 acres of East Manatee won preliminary approval Thursday from the Manatee County Planning Commission.

Commission members heard a presentation from the applicant, Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC, and from a few opponents, before voting unanimously in favor of two resolutions that would allow extension of the Wingate Creek Mine, west of Duette Road and north of State Road 64.

Speaking in favor of the plan was Bartley E. Arrington, Mosaic’s manager of mine permitting, who said that about 598 acres would be mined, and about 50 acres of wetlands and surface water areas would be disturbed — but replaced — once mining is finished.

Officials said the extension of the mine would pose no problem for nearby residents from noise, light, air pollution and other byproducts of the industrial process, a neighbor who lives in a subdivision more than a mile away said he frequently experiences too much noise and light already.

“You can sit on my front porch and listen to that mine operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” said John R. Henslick, a senior scientist for ECo Consultants Inc., of Sarasota.

“People stop the conversation and ask: ‘What is that noise?’” said Henslick.

Henslick complimented the company on the job it does, and said he didn’t mind the mine. But he added he thought there were steps it could take to improve or lessen the impact on its neighbors.

Others also objected to Mosaic’s request.

Linda Jones wondered if the company was on schedule for other reclamation projects it has in the works. A county staffer said it was on schedule at all of its Manatee County sites.

Sandra Ripberger said she was “very concerned” about the 50 acres of wetland the project would displace, adding, “Mosaic has not shown it can re-create wetlands to function as well as they did originally.”

She also wondered whether the mine would degrade the Myakka River, noting that parts of it in Sarasota have been named by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as “Outstanding Florida Waters,” providing special protection due to its natural attributes. The Florida Legislature also designated a 34-mile Sarasota portion a “Florida Wild and Scenic River.”

However, the river’s north end in Manatee County carries neither designation, according to Charlie Hunsicker, county director of natural resources. The river arises at the Flatford Swamp, north of Myakka City, and flows southwest through eastern Manatee, then via Sarasota and Charlotte counties to the Gulf of Mexico, he said.

Mosaic, among the world’s leading makers of phosphate and potash crop nutrients, is seeking a master plan authorizing mining and reclamation; a waiver of the setback requirement for mining adjacent to the county’s Duette Preserve; and approval of a build-out date for mining of Dec. 31, 2019, and reclamation until Dec. 31, 2023.

The company also has requested a rezoning of 645.9 acres from General Agriculture to the Extraction zoning district, according to county records.

The Manatee County Commission is slated to make the final decision at 9 a.m., Feb. 2 at the County Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031
Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2012/01/13/3788734/mosaic-request-gets-nod-of-panel.html#storylink=cpy

Manatee Planning Commission Recommends Duette Phosphate Expansion

Manatee Planning Commission Recommends Duette Phosphate Expansion

Published Friday, January 13, 2012 2:11 am

by John Rehill

BRADENTON — At the Planning Commission meeting Thursday, the seats were full of Mosaic suits. They were there to explain why they should be allowed to mine a 660 acre expansion to the Wingate mine, located in eastern Manatee County.

Many environmental organizations feared Planning’s rubber stamping of phosphate mining would continue and Thursday’s meeting certainly demonstrated that. The increasing concerns over the depleting number of quality wetlands, which ultimately threatens water supplies, has yet to find a sympathetic ear.

There will be 50 acres of wetland destroyed next to the Duette Preserve. These “wet prairie” wetlands are not low grade wetlands as Manatee’s Environmental Manager Joel Christian described. They are highly valued and can’t be duplicated. But that isn’t the only problem that the proposed mining will provoke. Glenn Compton from Manasota 88 claims Wingate Creek is a Class III water. It is designated as a “Outstanding Florida Water” and is to be afforded the highest protection, as is Johnson Creek. Both are also tributaries to the Myakka River.

Linda Jones, one of two who spoke against the proposed mine expansion claimed only 354 of the 14,000 acres have completed reclamation. Estimates by the EPA put the reclamation of thousands of acres of mined land in the billions of dollars range. Bonds secured with the county by Mosaic for reclamation are only in the tens of millions. Jones also mentioned that 60 percent of Phosphate is shipped overseas. Planning Commissioner Chairman Richard Bedford later replied when referencing Jones’s statement, “I had hoped it would be more.”

This demonstrates the hypocrisy concerned citizens find in those governing this process. If phosphate is of a dwindling and sparse supply, why spend so much of our precious water supply retrieving it, if it is going to China or India? That would make the soon to be burden fall on the residents that would ultimately be in need of both, and here is an official who seemingly wishes to expedite that.

After the meeting, I attempted to ask Commissioner Bedford a couple of questions. I mentioned that he and another commissioner spoke to the economic prosperity that comes from mining phosphate. I asked, “Since four out of five of the most economically depressed counties in Florida are mining-dominated counties, and the fact that Hardee County brought that to Mosaic’s attention before they settled on a $40 million dollar package for compensation, how exactly by crossing the county line, just miles away, is it now prosperous? Bedford said “I don’t know.” I asked him, “If each year, we have fewer and fewer wetlands, why are we downgrading them? Don’t the ones we have left become more and more valuable, the more of them we lose? He said, “I don’t know.” He then turned and left.

It was obvious staff had spent much time hashing out the plans with Mosaic, if only from all of the “thank you for all your help” that kept going out to the staff.” And the commission was eager to provide double the allotted time to the applicant to state their case, considering their agenda items 4 and 5 were being heard simultaneously. But when citizens Linda Jones and Sandra Ripberger spoke, they were restricted to just three minutes each.

Commissioner George Mendez never missed an opportunity to express a narrow vision of the mining process. He spoke several times, if only to fill in what compliments Mosaic forgot to give to themselves.

It was of no surprise that the Commission voted 6 – 0 to recommend Mosaic be permitted to mine the Wingate extention, or that staff went out of their way to accommodate them, yet cancelled a meeting with concerned citizens. The issue will now go to the Manatee County Commission for a final vote.

I will say, I too have stood before the Commission in an effort to keep Mosaic out of my back yard. I am reminded every minute and a half when the ground shakes and I hear the roar. You see, that’s the sound of the rubber stamp, and it would seem that we’d better get used to it.

Mosaic Seeks to Expand Wingate Mine

Manatee phosphate mine expansion advances

By Halle Stockton

Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 4:10 p.m.

MANATEE COUNTY – Mosaic Fertilizer plans to expand its phosphate mining operations on more than 3,000 acres of Duette pastureland, east of an existing 7,300-acre tract that has been mined since the 1970s.

But while the new land is tied up in a federal environmental study, Mosaic has gone to Manatee County to get started on a separate 600-acre extension located between State Road 64 and State Road 62.

On Thursday, the Manatee County Planning Commission gave preliminary approval to the world’s leading producer of concentrated phosphate to extend its Wingate Creek Mine operation.

Local environmental groups and a Duette resident opposed the extension, arguing that the existing mine already threatens park land and rivers, and degrades the rural landscape with constant noise and light.

“It is a historical mistake,” said ManaSota-88 Chairman Glenn Compton. “To expand upon an existing mistake is irresponsible.”

Mosaic contends that its operations are safe, environmentally viable and provide the county with hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact.

“It’s unfortunate that these groups would like to derail the permit, those jobs and that economic output based on concerns that really aren’t relevant for what the permit contemplates,” said Mosaic spokesman Russell Schweiss. “The mine has operated for 30 years without detriment to the downstream water bodies they are concerned about.”

The Manatee County Commission will make the final decision on the Wingate extension at its Feb. 2 meeting.

Mosaic is unable to mine 3,000 acres southeast of the Wingate Mine and cross over Duette Road until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes an environmental impact study in about a year.

If approved, mining at the 600-acre extension would begin in 2014.

Mosaic is seeking permits now in anticipation of any delays. Streamlining the process could prevent the mine from shutting down and laying off workers as mine reserves run out, Schweiss said.

The existing mine employs 130 people and provides $19 million in annual wages, the company said. An economic report projected the extension of the mine would generate an average of about 300 jobs annually for six years.

The Mosaic mine would destroy 49 acres of wetlands; the company says it would replace those with what it promises would be higher quality wetlands. The company has also committed to working with the county on a water improvement project at the Duette Preserve.

“This is a temporary impact,” said Bart Arrington, Mosaic’s permitting manager. “We put it back better than we find.”

John Henslick, a Winding Creek subdivision resident about a mile from the mine, said the noise and light are already intolerable.

“A lot of us moved out east to enjoy the country and the evening sky,” he said. “But at night, looking at the Mosaic property is like looking at St. Pete.”

Compton and Sierra Club member Sandra Ripberger had concerns over how the mining threatens fish and wildlife that rely on the Wingate and Johnson creeks, which feed to the Myakka River.

Though Mosaic assured that dams follow rigid quality standards, Compton said habitats could be destroyed if the mine’s holding ponds were to fail and release toxic waters.

“We are one hurricane away from finding that out,” he said.