Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times reports on yet another incident involving a Mosaic phosphogypsum stack. The “seepage” at the Bartow facility was not reported to the pubic for 3 weeks by either Mosaic or the FDEP. Mosaic says it didn’t have to let the public know. Read the article – you be the judge.
News article in the Winter Haven Sun regarding the problems Mosaic has with its phosphogypsum stacks. Click on link to view this article.
Link to the Mosaic letter to the FDEP re a Variance Renewal Request for the Fort Green Mine Reclamation timing for an additional 10 years.
Florida Statute 378.209 is referenced in the Renewal Request
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 25 gypstacks in Florida and each one of them has the potential to contaminate our water supply.
Published: December 2, 2016, POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA)
Read Full Article here: https://www.wfla.com/8-on-your-side/investigations/mosaic-scales-back-well-testing-for-sinkhole-neighbors/995214069
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