The Mosaic Corporation is denying their responsibility of continuing to tests wells for the areas surrounding the New Wales Plant where 215 million gallons of radioactive toxic water entered the Floridan aquifer in a sinkhole disaster in August 2016. The FDEP should require the continued testing of any Floridian resident wells who think their well water might be compromised by this enormous “accident”. There are 22 gypstacks in central Florida and each one of them has the potential to contaminate our water supply.
Testing began in September, shortly after Target 8 revealed 215 million gallons of contaminated water drained into the aquifer.
Mosaic claims a private company it hired, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc., has conducted tests on 1,200 private wells.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 67 wells showed they contained contaminant levels that exceed the government’s drinking water standard. But the department states none of those wells was impacted by the water that escaped from the sinkhole at the plant.
While Mosaic and the state contend the contaminated water is contained on site, some neighbors just don’t have a lot of confidence in the testing that’s going on. “I have zero comfort,” Kristie Simpson said.
Simpson lives about five and a half miles west of the sinkhole. She was told tests on her well showed the water was safe to drink.
“Then later on my water started smelling different; there’s a lot of black stuff coming out of the pipes. My neighbors have that problem too,” Simpson said.
She claims she wanted her well tested for arsenic and other contaminants and was refused. Now she buys purified water and has filters on her showers.
At the root of her distrust is that the DEP waited for three weeks, until after Target 8 broke the story, to make public the threat of potential contamination. “So right there, there is zero integrity,” Simpson said.
She said Mosaic’s plan to test only wells within that four mile radius for another two years in not good enough.
Mosaic contends the ground water in the area of the sinkhole moves about 500 feet per month.
If that’s the case, Simpson argues the wells in the area should be tested for 20 or 30 years.
Mosaic also stopped delivering bottled water to wells where tests came back within Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards. It will continue delivering water through this month for those wells in which contaminants exceed standards.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After making a public records request to the State of Florida for documents about the Polk County sinkhole, and experiencing weeks of delay in receiving a response, Congresswoman Gwen Graham today said that the records which were released raise serious questions about the response of the governor’s office and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to a potential crisis.
“Unless there are records that were not produced as required by law, the disclosures show an alarming lack of communication among state regulators about a threat to the health and safety of Florida families and our environment,” said Graham. “I am very concerned that we had a watchdog agency asleep at the wheel.”
According to the records, before the sinkhole was exposed by the media, nearly all of the electronic communications regarding the incident were email exchanges between the DEP and Mosaic employees. Records from the governor’s office and DEP contained very few internal communications between state employees concerning the sinkhole before it became public. And while there were several emails from the governor’s office about Graham’s questions, there were none demonstrating concern over the sinkhole and DEP’s response or examining potential solutions to the problem.
Equally concerning was the state’s communications with its own scientists, much of which appears to be instructions on how to handle questions from constituents and the press. At least one geologist, who has spent more than 20 years working for the state, raised concerns over the lack of information: “I’m working on that facility with EPA but no one told me about it [the sinkhole]. So much for communication.”
“These public records responses indicate communication has broken down within Governor Scott’s state agencies,” Graham said. “With this kind of threat to Florida families and the environment, the governor’s office and DEP should have been ringing alarm bells and taking swift action. Nothing in these records indicates they were operating with any sense of urgency. Either we are still missing documents, or the state didn’t particularly care. Neither situation is acceptable.”
POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Some residents who live near the massive sinkhole at Mosaic’s New Wales Plant are worried about their well water.
Recent test results show they should be concerned because of high levels of radioactive material. What is not clear is whether the Mosaic sinkhole, which dropped 215 million gallons of radioactive water into the Florida aquifer, has anything to do with it.
Mosaic – and some experts – say it’s possible the radioactivity was already present in some of these wells. They said it could have been caused by by “natural geologic processes.” Testing so far, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, show the contaminated water has been captured exactly the way it should be.
A DEP spokeswoman sent 8 On Your Side an email that said test results do not show that contaminants from the New Wales plant are showing up in the well water. There are certain characteristics from the New Wales water that are not showing up in the well water, leading the state to conclude the harmful materials in the water are unrelated to the sinkhole. The state official wrote:
“The ongoing monitoring onsite at the New Wales facility continues to show no movement of process water away from the sinkhole location. Process water is only being detected in the recovery well samples to date, which indicates that the recovery well is working as expected and capturing process water. In this geographic region of Florida, levels of gross alpha that are above the drinking water standard are often associated with natural geologic processes. In other cases, they may be related to the construction of the water well itself. ”
But resident Jennifer Psait isn’t sure she’s buying that. She points to a delay in Mosaic notifying residents about the problems.
One of two wells on Bob Glaze’s property has so much radium in the brown water that he shut it off – out of fear. Psait is Glaze’s next-door tenant. She shares his two wells. Psait is worried about her three children who, until recently, drank and bathed in the water
“I’m not a chemist, or a chemistry student,” she said. “I think that’s pretty bad.”
Water tests show radium levels of 52.01 picocuries per liter – that’s more than five times the acceptable standard. Psait is concerned about the lack of information from Mosaic officials. And she’s leery of what they do tell her, since the company wasn’t forthcoming, at first, when the sinkhole opened in late August.
“The thing I really don’t respect about them is that they knew that had happened, even when they had coordinated with the legislature and they didn’t report it to the public. They only reported it when it started getting leaked,” Psait said.
The Mosaic sinkhole dropped more than 215 million gallons of radioactive water into the Florida aquifer. The company has tested 763 nearby wells and say 10 show water that’s not safe to drink. But the company takes no responsibility for this, saying the radioactive materials are just a coincidence.
DEP officials say they are trying to contact all of the residents with wells that showed contaminated water and will assist those residents in determining how to fix their water issues. In the meantime, Mosaic continues to deliver drinking water to residents who request it.
Water Coalition places ‘slime’ billboards along I-75
By Virginia Chamlee | 12.07.11 | 12:48 pm
One of the Florida Water Coalition billboards (Pic by Florida Water Coalition)
The Florida Water Coalition, a group that recently filed a petition against the state’s recently drafted water rules, has put up two billboards in an effort to “educate Floridians and visitors about the state’s widespread algae pollution problem and to urge citizens to let their government representatives know that they don’t want more delays – they want clear limits on the amount of sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution in our public waters.”
Both billboards contain a photograph of a large-scale algal bloom in Fanning Springs, an area that was once clear all the way to its sandy bottom. According to the Coalition, “development and large-scale agricultural operations in the spring’s watershed have spewed pollution underground into the aquifer, and it bubbles up in the spring, altering the water chemistry and triggering nauseating toxic algae outbreaks.”
One billboard is loicated on Interstate 75 between Gainesville and Ocala, the other is also on I-75, just south of Lake City.
The Florida Water Coalition — which is comprised of the Florida Wildlife Federation, Earthjustice, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the St. Johns Riverkeeper — recently filed a petition against the state’s “numeric nutrient criteria,” a set of standards they argue aren’t strong enough to ward off nutrient pollution in waterways.
The coalition has argued that the standards are so poor, in fact, that they “would actually be less protective than no numeric nutrient standards.” Many environmentalists have argued that the government dragged its feet in producing the standards, and is now favoring the polluters over the public.
“The toxic algae that comes from sewage, manure and fertilizer runoff is a public health threat. It is poisoning our drinking water and making people sick,” said Monica Reimer, an attorney with Earthjustice, in a press release. “Among other things, it causes respiratory problems, stomach problems, and rashes.”
Another problem, says Reimer, is that the pollution is harming businesses across the state.
“We depend on tourists to run our economy,” Reimer said. “Look at the reality on our billboards. This is obviously not good for Florida tourism. This affects jobs.”
According to a press release, the funding for the billboards came from grassroots activists. Though there are currently only two billboards erected, the Coalition has hopes it can spread its message across the state as the campaign expands.
EPA, GOP In ‘Head-To-Head’ Fight Over Residential Radiation Standard
Posted: July 8, 2011
A group of Republican congressmen from Florida are battling EPA over whether the agency should survey parts of the state where it fears tens of thousands of people living on former phosphate mines may be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, with the lawmakers challenging EPA’s long-held cleanup standard for radioactive contamination in residential areas.
According to one congressional staffer, the Republican congressmen and EPA’s administrator are in a “head to head” fight over the surveys, even as EPA is considering using them more widely.
At issue are approximately 10 square miles of former phosphate mining lands near Lakeland, FL, where EPA has taken no cleanup action despite having had concerns since the late 1970s that the indoor air of homes built on the lands is contaminated with cancer-causing levels of radiation. EPA’s concerns, made public by an award-winning series of Inside EPA articles in 2010, have prompted a negative reaction from the Republican congressmen, who believe the agency’s fears are overblown.
In February the lawmakers, who include Reps. Dennis Ross, Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Richard Nugent and Thomas Rooney, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in which they take issue with EPA having recently conducted a preliminary aerial survey near the area in question, according to the letter, which Inside EPA recently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The survey is considered to be a key early step in a possible cleanup process (Superfund Report, Feb. 7).
In the letter, the lawmakers call EPA’s long-held standard for cleaning up radioactive contamination in residential areas “arbitrary” and claim that past studies by the Florida Department of Health found no health risks in the area. Relevant documents are available on InsideEPA.com. (Doc ID: 2369534)
In a May response letter to the congressmen, EPA waste chief Mathy Stanislaus does not directly address the lawmakers’ challenge to the agency’s cleanup standard. But he defends EPA’s use of aerial surveys and does not offer to halt such surveys or notify the lawmakers prior to conducting them in the future, as the lawmakers demand in their letter.
Stanislaus offers to meet with the congressmen, but according to an EPA spokeswoman, no such meeting has been scheduled.
According to a spokesman for Ross, the congressmen are “still in a head-to-head fight with [EPA Administrator] Lisa Jackson about getting notification on flyovers, let alone having them brought to a halt.” Spokesmen for the other lawmakers could not be reached for comment.
Stanislaus says that the limited survey EPA conducted earlier this year “contributed valuable information to the agencies as plans for a larger-scale survey were considered . . . Based on this information, EPA is considering a larger-scale aerial survey to collect data related to phosphate mining sites and background areas.”
He adds that it “is important to note that conducting an aerial survey is not necessarily an indicator of a concern or a need for remedial action. Surveys are also useful tools for confirming areas that are not considered to pose potential health or ecological risks.”
According to the EPA spokeswoman, EPA has not yet made a final decision on how to proceed with such surveys.
The EPA standard, which the agency has used as the basis for radiological cleanups near residential areas throughout the country, has long been a source of contention between EPA, Florida and phosphate mining industry officials. The disagreement is one of the main reasons why the agency has yet to act on its concerns about human exposure in the area (Superfund Report, Jan. 25, 2010).
The standard, which comes from EPA’s regulations under the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA), dictates that radium-226 concentrations in soil — which are often elevated on land that has been mined for phosphate — should not exceed 5 picocuries per gram (pCi/g) above what naturally occurs in the area. EPA has long relied on the standard as an applicable or relevant and appropriate requirement (ARAR) under Superfund law for radioactive cleanups near residential areas around the country.
But Florida officials have argued that no cleanup is necessary unless people are being exposed to more than 500 millirem (mrem) of radiation per year, a suggestion that some environmentalists fear could set a dangerous precedent given that EPA has historically considered exposures above 15 mrem to be unsafe.
In their February letter, the congressmen claim that the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) “in reviewing the [EPA] standard, stated [it] could be set two orders of magnitude higher and still be protective of human health.”
But while ATSDR in documents previously obtained by Inside EPA suggests that it would be satisfied with a 100 mrem standard, the agency in the documents says it does not object to EPA relying on its traditional ARAR, to which the congressmen and state officials are opposed.
In addition, ATSDR says in the documents that it agrees with EPA that aerial surveys of the area are necessary.
But in their letter, the Republican congressmen call such surveys “an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars. Furthermore, the arbitrary standard advocated by the EPA creates a significant risk of placing an unjustified and permanent stigma over thousands of acres of land in [our] district[s].
“Florida’s real estate market is already under significant duress as a result of the economic downturn in our own state,” the lawmakers add. “These potential actions by the EPA stand to impede Florida’s recovery without any basis in human health risks.”
According to documents Inside EPA previously obtained under FOIA, many of the areas EPA is concerned with are occupied by wealthy, up-scale residential developments and resorts. But according to more recent documents, EPA is also concerned that some of the potentially affected areas could be low-income or minority communities, creating environmental justice concerns. — Douglas P. Guarino
© 2000-2011. Inside Washington Publishers
Douglas P. Guarino
Inside Washington Publishers
(Inside EPA’s Superfund Report)
1919 South Eads Street, Suite 201
Arlington, VA 22202
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
This email was sent to me today by environmental activist, John Rehill, of Duette, FL. Note the before/after photographs of Bartow’s Kissengen Springs (embedded in his message)….
Army Corps of Engineers wants phosphate mining comments
The Bradenton Herald 4-12-2011
MANATEE — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is soliciting public comments on what should be included in an comprehensive review of phosphate mining’s impacts on Florida.The Corps plans to study mining’s environmental, socio-economic and other impacts in the Central Florida Phosphate District. The district, also known as “Bone Valley,” is a 1.3-million-acre area covering parts of Manatee, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Polk and DeSoto counties.
Comments on the study’s scope can be made by going to the project website, www.phosphateaeis.org. The comment deadline is April 25.
Court to take second look at Mosaic permit
MANATEE — A U.S. District Court will take a second look at whether the Mosaic Company should be allowed to proceed with a 7,600-acre phosphate mining project in Hardee County.
That’s because a federal appeals court ruled Friday the district court should not have issued a preliminary injunction on the project back in July, and should take another 90 days to review a permit issued to Mosaic by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Three environmental groups, including Manasota-88 and the nationwide Sierra Club, had filed suit against the Corps and Mosaic contending the permit did not comply with the federal Clean Water Act and would damage 534 wetland acres, 26 open-water acres and 10-plus miles of streams.
Mosaic on Monday praised the appellate court’s decision to vacate the injunction as a “timely ruling,” while attorney Eric Huber of the Sierra Club said his group was “glad” the permit will be stayed for another 90 days. Meanwhile, Mosaic continues to mine 200 acres of the Hardee County site under a settlement agreement reached with the environmental groups that involves protection of 40 key acres that encompass 14.3 acres of wetlands.
The Hardee County project, known as the South Fort Meade mine, is of regional concern both because of the hundreds of jobs provided by Mosaic Co., and the pivotal environmental role of the Peace River and its tributaries that are impacted by the mining project.
For those of you who wish to protect our water source, our estuaries, our rivers, wetlands and migration trails from strip-mining and the toxic environment left in it’s wake, please read this and respond by leaving a comment at the website above. If we don’t who will?
Of the many hundreds of thousands of acres that have been mined in central Florida, under 20% has experienced any form of reclamation. A Wetland is like “coral,” they are a thousand years in the making. They are a living breathing essential part of one of earths vital functions. That is to recharge our ecosystem’s ground water by filtering and percolating surface water to where it is stored for our drinking pleasures, in the aquifer. They recharge our streams, make water available for trees and habitat for migrating animals. They can only be destroyed by man they can’t be created. Any effort to do so is cosmetic at best and to be told otherwise is an insult to our intelligence. We have lost thousands of acres of wetland to phosphate mining. We don’t have that many left.
Water, the most critical element to our quality of life, is in peril and Mosaic is perched to prey on what’s left. Their sites are set on the Peace River watershed, a water source for almost 1 million people. This is not mentioned in the above article. It also doesn’t mention the river is a major source of fresh water to Charlotte Harbor, an important fishing and recreational area that also provides nursery habitat for numerous commercial and recreational fish and shellfish, and shelters species such as the West Indian manatee. The article neglects to say the headwaters also feed an estuary of national significance under the National Estuary Program and it is to be protected. That is because The Army Corp Of Engineers and SWIFTMUD have neglected to live up to that obligation and have only rubber stamped every permit that has been put before them when it came to Mosaic.
If we do not step up now and insist ACOE deny any further abuse to this last available resource of fresh water, who will?.
Mosaic is riding into this disaster on a horse called “JOBS.” I will remind you, Mosaics employs fewer workers per acre than any other occupation. Less than 3,000 employees at it’s best, on land the size of some counties. The math works out at about one worker for every 250 acres. Even national parks beat that.
Below is a park that once existed, but today is gone, history, no sign of existence, swallowed up from mining. Florida has lost many of these could-be recreational areas, recharging our economy or maybe preventing what has happened to it. But there is nothing but barren ruins.
I beg you, STOP mosaic from destroying the last bit of what Florida is. The estimated cost to the land that lay neglected is tens of billions of dollars and we are stuck with the bill. How can we get rid of our Teachers and let this GIANT corporation stick us with dead dirt and a future of peril?
I have included a list below of effects caused by phosphate mining incase one needs a subject to focus on, titled “False Fate” Please, Please, Please help us out. It will only take a few minutes.
At left, Kissengen Spring, located four miles southeast of Bartow, was a popular recreational area. It stopped flowing in 1950 due to over pumping of the aquifer in the region, largely by the phosphate industry. When the spring flowed, it discharged about 20 million gallons of water daily into a spring pool from a 17-foot deep cavern. Today the spring basin is overgrown with native and invasive plants and there’s little evidence of its former glory. Overuse of groundwater by industry, agriculture and residents in the upper and lower basins continues to cause problems in the Peace River watershed.
What does “Phosphate” mining do?
Here are some of the affects.
1- It destroys wetlands
2- It destroys stream and river water quality
3- It fractures the 10,000 year old “hardpan”
4- It destroys megatons of CO2 consuming foliage
5- It releases “Radon Gas”
6- It concentrates “uranium”
7- It drawls down the aquifer
8- It’s “runoff” overburdens estuaries
9- It’s repressive to county economic growth
10- It destroys old-growth trees
11- It’s machinery contaminates the aquifer
12- It strips the top-soil of all nutrients
13- It contributes to “sinkholes”
14- It uses huge amounts of fuel
15- It uses huge amounts of water
16- It tyrannizes surrounding property owners
17- It reduces surrounding property value
18- It employes fewer employees, per acre, than almost all other occupations
19- It corrupts local politicians
20- It poisons wells
21- It dries-up wells
22- It pollutes the air with “volatile” dust
23- It buries gopher tortoises
24- It destroys wild animal migration corridors
25- It destroys all of the native animal food-stock habitat
26- It destroys all of the grounds’ micro-flora
27- It promotes the growth of invasive plant species
28- It leaves the land to very limitable uses
29- It stores hundreds of billions of gallons of extremely toxic water behind hurricane vulnerable dikes
30- It exposes arsenic into the environment
31- It converts hectors of farmland into pits of barren topography
32- It dries up surrounding ponds
33- It uses tax revenue, externalizing operational cost to the public
34- It stinks
“Don’t let our worst habits
become our habitat”
Manasota-88 files concerns to FDEP on local phosphate mine
By GRACE GAGLIANO – firstname.lastname@example.org
MANATEE — A local environmental protection organization has filed a six-page letter to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection outlining its concerns with Mosaic’s Wingate mine.
The letter filed by Manasota-88 to the FDEP is in response to Mosaic’s request to obtain extended mining rights at the Manatee County mine that is currently in operation.
Among the concerns of Manasota-88 listed in the letter include how extend mining will affect area surface waters, crops and air quality.
Last week, Mosaic filed a permit application with the FDEP to add 765 acres to the Wingate Mine in Duette. Mosaic plans to start mining 597 acres of that 765-acre parcel in several years as company officials project the 3,028-acre mining tract will be mined out in a few years.
Read more: http://www.bradenton.com/2011/02/07/2936771/manasota-88-files-concerns-to.html#ixzz1DJte0ghI
I stumbled across this website in my online research. It has numerous photographs of our new governor in the header at the top of the page….
The Florida Phosphate Committee of Continuous Existence
In late November 1979, the Florida Phosphate Committee of Continuous Existence (FPCCE) was organized to encourage phosphate industry participation in government and key political issues. Additionally, the FPCCE would provide a source for contributing campaign funds to political candidates in the State of Florida.
In 1983, the FPCCE extended its membership base to include Associate Memberships; i.e. companies providing supplies and services to the phosphate industry. Associate Memberships enhance the FPCCE’s impact in Tallahassee by providing “Strength in Numbers.”
Today, the committee has three phosphate Member Companies and 68 Associate Member companies with the commitment to contributing over $500,000 in this election cycle.
Working closely with their lobbyists in Tallahassee from the three phosphate Member Companies, the FPCCE strives to promote stronger relationships between the phosphate industry and our elected government officials.
We thank you for your support and participation for a united industry effort!
If you are interested in becoming an Associate Member Company, please email FPCCE
The Florida Phosphate Committee of Continuous Existence
invites you to an old fashioned
Bar-B-Q Dinner and Social
Come on down & get the scoop on issues facing our industry!
Where: The Lakeland Center
701 West Lime Street, Lakeland FL 33815
Date: Thursday, October 20, 2011
Time: 5pm until 9pm
Admission: $150 per person
Deadline: October 17, 2011
Florida Phosphate Committee of Continuous Existence (FPCCE)
P.O. Box 1384
Mulberry, FL 33860