“While Piney Point had a particularly well-documented and long history of regulatory failures, it is by no means an anomaly. Leaks, seeps, and discharges from phosphogypsum stacks across the U.S. have caused groundwater contamination and numerous sinkholes. And these incidents, many of which are in Black, Indigenous, and Latino (BIPOC) and/or low-wealth communities, show no sign of slowing despite the well-documented harm.
What Can Congress Do?
Congress could, of course, reverse the Bevill Amendment, or more narrowly amend the RCRA to require the EPA to treat phosphogypsum and process wastewater as hazardous waste. Short of that, it could hold a congressional hearing to investigate the regulatory framework of the phosphate industry and the failure to ensure protection of human health and the environment.
Congress should also identify areas where it can provide additional resources to help the EPA quickly and comprehensively address this problem.
For too long, the phosphate industry has been exempted from accepting responsibility for preventing and cleaning up its ever-expanding toxic crisis. Federal regulators and elected officials must end this toxic nightmare now or shoulder full responsibility for the potentially catastrophic events that lie ahead.”
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