Phosphate industry and us – the story of Piney Point

Column from Sun Port Charlotte by Andy Mele and the Peace+Myakka Waterkeeper

There are several common-sense steps [7] that can prevent another Piney Point, or worse.

1. Require the FDEP to get tougher with the phosphate industry. Bankrupt or not, force the industry to begin Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) on stack fluids immediately. We do not accept procrastination and postponement as viable preventive measures. Piney Point is a clear example of the consequences of “kicking the can down the road.”

2. Empty the cells and seal off the gypstacks now, not 30 years from now. The dry flanks of the 24 stacks in the Bone Valley contain a high percentage of ultra-fine dusts, some particles as small as 1 micron, a clear and present health threat to communities throughout west-central Florida.

3. End the dishonest process of “blending,” in which toxic and hazardous wastes are diluted with tens of millions of gallons per day of prime groundwater — available free to the industry — and then releasing it into surface waters — many of them drinking water sources — once it meets state standards.

4. Any further production of radioactive phosphogypsum and extremely hazardous process fluids must be halted immediately.

5. Firmly oppose the use of phosphogypsum for “Radioactive Roads.”

6. If FDEP can’t handle the job, bring in the federal EPA to regulate the phosphate industry.

7. Require the industry to use reclaimed water for its 90 million gallons per day usage. The state’s water crisis simply cannot permit wasting precious potable water resources.

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