EPA and toxic waste

Stuart Cooper Flouride Action Network October 7, 2015

The company that gets rid of highly toxic wastes by selling them as a “product” to municipal water departments across the country as cheap fluoridation chemicals has been fined $2 billion for gross violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).
Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC, is one of the largest sellers of a toxic fluoride chemical, “fluorosilicic acid”, that cities add to public drinking water. Fluorosilicic acid is described by EPA in the Consent Decrees as a “hazardous waste” produced at Mosaic’s fertilizer plants. More than 200 million Americans drink these wastes every day.
For decades Mosaic has been selling fluoridation chemicals to public drinking water systems across the U.S. This Kafkaesque scheme, approved by EPA, benefits the polluter in the belief that it helps the teeth of the poor, according to FAN.
The fine was levied on October 1st by the EPA and U.S. Department of Justice. These wastes are produced at Mosaic’s six phosphate fertilizer plants in Florida and two in Louisiana.
“It’s outrageous that Mosaic is allowed to sell an EPA ‘hazardous waste’ to dump into the drinking water used in most major U.S. cities,” says FAN scientist Dr. Neil Carman.
Dr. William Hirzy, also with FAN, added, “This loophole needs to be closed by the EPA. It was not addressed in the Consent Decrees which allow Mosaic to continue selling a hazardous waste to the public disguised as a way to boost fluoride in drinking water.”
The RCRA laws govern the storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste. Mosaic’s 60 billion pounds of improperly handled hazardous waste cited by EPA is the largest amount ever covered by a RCRA settlement. Mosaic’s wastes have also caused huge local environmental problems, due largely to their high fluoride levels. The fluoride, not captured in pollution control devices and sold for water fluoridation, ends up in their liquid and solid wastes. Other toxic constituents include arsenic, lead, cadmium, uranium and radium. Enormous quantities of these wastes have been stored for years in so-called gypsum stacks. They will never become non-toxic, and these open hazardous waste piles have regularly leaked into rivers and groundwater causing huge fish kills and other problems.
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For an overview of the phosphate fertilizer industry see http://fluoridealert.org/articles/phosphat

Polk County formerly mined lands…what to do with it?

After mining, it will be the county that tries to figure out what in the heck they will do with their thousands of acres of mined lands. Health studies would be required to assess the toxicity and possible radiation threats left behind by the upheaval of formerly native systems. Is this what Hardee, Desoto and Manatee county can look forward to?

[ 250,000 ACRES IN SOUTHWEST POLK ] What’s Next for Bone Valley? Planners Try to Flesh Out Future For Former Mining Land

Thousands of undeveloped acres,  such as this land south of Mulberry, are one of the focuses of the Bone Valley study.
TOM PALMER | THE LEDGER
By Tom Palmer
THE LEDGER
Published: Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 1:32 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 1:32 a.m.
BARTOW | Thousands of acres of real estate in southwest Polk County dominated by phosphate mining for more than a century are nearly ready for their next act.
But efforts by county planners to guide future development decisions for the 250,000 acres, about one-fifth of the county, have stalled for the past three years.
The reasons range from staff turnover to the difficulty in coming up with the right approach to set up a vision for an area this vast.
If all goes as planned, the effort is scheduled to resume by year’s end and eventually will land on the County Commission’s desk for review.
“This is very important; we need to be on the forefront of this,” said County Commissioner Melony Bell, whose district includes the area between the boundaries of Bartow, Fort Meade and Mulberry that’s the focus of what is called the Bone Valley Special Area Study, which was launched in 2009.
The area earned the name Bone Valley because of the large amount of fossils of creatures such as mammoths, camels, horses, turtles and dugongs unearthed during mining.
Bell said what Polk County does there could become a model for other counties such as Hardee and DeSoto where mining is still occurring or just getting underway.
Chanda Bennett, the most recent county planner assigned to the project, said this is a way to include principles in the county’s growth plan that will lay out issues to consider for future development requests in the area.
She said this is more practical than attempting, as county planners have done in smaller study areas, to assign future land-use categories.
The effort is complicated by the area containing a mix of areas whose future uses will probably be industrial and areas where there are more options.
“Streamsong demonstrated there are potential uses other than industrial,” Bennett said, referring to the upscale resort Mosaic developed in a relatively remote area near the Polk-Hardee line.
She said the only limiting factor in future development plans is adequate infrastructure, primarily water and sewer service and roads.
Bennett said another goal of the study is to protect existing residential communities, such as Bradley, from undesirable uses.
NOT FIRST STUDY
The Bone Valley SAS isn’t the first time planners have attempted to figure out what the post-mining future of southwest Polk County should look like.
In 1990, the Central Florida Regional Planning Council met with mining company officials and other interest groups to try to understand the issues ahead for mined land.
The phosphate industry had maintained for decades that its mining operations were only a temporary use.
That raised the question of what would be the subsequent uses for the land. That study, which occurred only 15 years after state law required phosphate companies to reclaim mined land, made no recommendations.
Instead, it was the first attempt by local planners to persuade phosphate company officials to begin thinking about what their land could be used for after mining and reclamation were completed.
In the meantime, Bone Valley was sometimes seen as a “sacrifice zone,” a place where activities ranging from power plants to hazardous waste incinerators opposed in other parts of the state could find a home.
The next attempt to look at the area’s future came in 1999 in an effort launched by Polk County’s planning staff.
However, that study hit a dead end after phosphate company representatives declined to participate, arguing they weren’t ready to discuss the issue.
Since that time, the consolidation of the phosphate industry and the sales of land formerly owned by mining companies have resulted in a situation where a handful of landowners now own most of the land.
The largest landowner is fertilizer giant Mosaic.
Its spokeswoman, Callie Neslund, said the company is interested in working with Polk County.
“Going forward, Mosaic will look at all of our landholdings within the Bone Valley SAS from both an environmental and economic perspective,” she said in an email.
“As we conduct a bit of our own planning, we will work closely with the county to ensure future uses are compatible with the surrounding communities and comprehensive vision for the future of Polk County and existing assets throughout the area are leveraged,” she said.
Another major landowner is the Lakeland-based T Mims Corp. headed by businessman Tom Mims.
Mims, who participated in the study, said the idea was too ambitious and impractical.
“The problem with the study is that it takes a blanket approach to future development,” he said. “No one can predict what’s going to happen there.”
He said Streamsong Resort, which was announced and built while the study was underway, is a good example of that.
“No one saw that coming.”
Mims said these plans are inherently political, explaining people who participate in the process will benefit and people who don’t could end up with future land use designations that put them at a disadvantage for developing their property.
The land around Streamsong may be an example of this.
The resort’s development prompted county planners to develop the Brewster Special Area Plan that imposed some restrictions on land uses in this 16,000-acre portion of the study area.
The purpose was to prevent incompatible land uses from affecting it, Bennett said.
ENVIRONMENTALISTS INTERESTED
Potential developers and major landowners aren’t the only ones watching the progress of the Bone Valley study.
Sierra Club member John Ryan said environmentalists’ main focus is on preserving river and creek corridors that were part of reclamation plans to make sure future development doesn’t interfere with those corridors’ ability to allow water and wildlife to move.
Bone Valley contains tributaries of the Peace, Alafia and Little Manatee rivers, all of which have been affected in some way by mining activities.
Mosaic has announced plans to restore some of the streams and to improve wildlife habitat as part of its reclamation plans.
The concern is what happens after Mosaic, or any other company required to complete reclamation projects, finishes, sells the land and moves on.
“Right now, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen after reclamation,” Ryan said.
[ Tom Palmer can be reached at tom.palmer@theledger.com or 863-802-7535. Follow on Twitter @LedgerTom. ]

Mosaic slapped with $2 Billion clean up settlement Oct. 2015

Phosphate giant Mosaic agrees to pay nearly $2 billion over mishandling of hazardous waste

· Craig Pittman, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer
Thursday, October 1, 2015 12:53pm
Mosaic Fertilizer, the world’s largest phosphate mining company, has agreed to pay nearly $2 billion to settle a federal lawsuit over hazardous waste and to clean up its operations at six Florida sites and two in Louisiana, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday.
“The 60 billion pounds of hazardous waste addressed in this case is the largest amount ever covered by a federal or state … settlement and will ensure that wastewater at Mosaic’s facilities is properly managed and does not pose a threat to groundwater resources,” the EPA said.
The EPA had accused Mosaic of improper storage and disposal of waste from the production of phosphoric and sulfuric acids, key components of fertilizers, at Mosaic’s facilities in Bartow, New Wales, Mulberry, Riverview, South Pierce and Green Bay in Florida, as well as two sites in Louisiana.
The EPA said it had discovered Mosaic employees were mixing highly-corrosive substances from its fertilizer operations with the solid waste and wastewater from mineral processing, in violation of federal and state hazardous waste laws.
“This case is a major victory for clean water, public health and communities across Florida and Louisiana,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
Mosaic CEO Joc O’Rourke said the company is “pleased to be bringing this matter to a close” and pledging to be a good environmental steward. The Minnesota-based company was formed in 2004 by a merger of IMC Global with the crop nutrition division of Cargill.
Mosaic officials in Florida said the EPA investigation and negotiations for a settlement have been going on for eight years, and what they were doing was something everyone in the phosphate industry was doing as well.
The settlement with the EPA, the Justice Department, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality will have no impact on Mosaic’s continued employment or on its future mining expansion plans in DeSoto, Hardee and Manatee counties, they said.
First discovered by an Army Corps of Engineers captain in 1881, Florida’s phosphate deposits today form the basis of an $85-billion industry that supplies three-fourths of the phosphate used in the United States. Although phosphate mining provides a major financial boon to the small communities in which the mines are located, it also leaves behind a major environmental mess.
The miners use a dragline with a bucket the size of a truck to scoop up the top 30 feet of earth and dump it to the side of the mine. Then the dragline scoops out the underlying section of earth, which contains phosphate rocks mixed with clay and sand.
The bucket dumps this in a pit where high-pressure water guns create a slurry that can then be pumped to a plant up to 10 miles away.
At the plant, the phosphate is separated from the sand and clay. The clay slurry is pumped to a settling pond, and the phosphate is sent to a chemical processing plant where it is processed for use in fertilizer and other products. The sand is sent back to the mine site to fill in the hole after all the phosphate is dug out.
A byproduct, called phosphogypsum, is slightly radioactive so it cannot be disposed of easily. The only thing the miners can do with it is stack it into mountainous piles next to the plant. Florida is such a flat state that the 150-foot-tall “gyp stacks” are usually the highest point in the landscape for miles around. They contain large pools of highly acidic wastewater on top, too.
“Mining and mineral processing facilities generate more toxic and hazardous waste than any other industrial sector,” Giles said. “Reducing environmental impacts from large fertilizer manufacturers operations is a national priority for EPA.”
Mosaic’s production of pollution is so great that in 2012, the Southwest Florida Water Management District granted the company a permit to pump up to 70 million gallons of water a day out of the ground for the next 20 years. Mosaic is using some of that water to dilute the pollution it dumps into area creeks and streams so it won’t violate state regulations.
The EPA investigation was prompted by a 2003 incident in which the Piney Point phosphate plant, near the southern end of the Sunshine Skyway, leaked some of waste from atop its gyp stack into the edge of Tampa Bay after its owners walked away.
That prompted EPA to launch a national review of phosphate mining facilities, said EPA spokeswoman Julia Valentine. That’s how inspectors found workers were mixing the corrosive substances from the fertilizer operations with the phosphogypsum and wastewater from the mineral processing, she said.
That mixing was something everyone in the industry did, according to Richard Ghent of Mosaic’s Florida operations. The EPA said that violated both state and federal law and put groundwater at risk. It has previously gotten settlements from two other companies, one of which, CF Industries, has since been taken over by Mosaic.
Despite the mishandling of the waste, Debra Waters, Mosaic’s director of environmental regulatory affairs in Florida, said the company has seen no change in the area’s groundwater as a result, which EPA officials said was correct.
The fact that the negotiations have been going on for so many years, she said, “should indicate that there’s no imminent threat.”
The company will invest at least $170 million at its fertilizer manufacturing facilities to keep those substances separate from now on. Mosaic will also put money aside for the safe future closure of the gypsum stacks using a $630 million trust fund it is creating under the settlement. That money will be invested until it reaches $1.8 billion, which will pay for the closures.
The South Pierce and Green Bay plants, both in Polk County, are already in the process of shutting down, with the closure of the gyp stacks already underway, Waters said.
Mosaic will also pay a $5 million civil penalty to the federal government, a $1.55 million penalty to the State of Louisiana and $1.45 million to Florida, and it will be required to spend $2.2 million on local environmental projects to make up for what it has done.
Mosaic, which runs television ads touting its importance in growing crops to feed the world, has previously run afoul of the EPA on its air pollution standards. However, last year company was rated one of the top 50 employers in America based on salary and job satisfaction. Mosaic employs about 1,200 people in Hillsborough County alone.

What the Future Holds for Mosaic’s “Bone Valley”

Mosaic’s “Bone Valley” in the Peace River Heartland

For the first time in history the entire Central Florida Phosphate Mining District is owned by one single company: Mosaic. They recently acquired CF Industries and their associated Ft Green/Hardee County mining and beneficiation operations – the South Pasture Mine Extension. Mosaic is presently seeking permits for an additional 52,000 acres of phosphate strip mining in Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto Counties.

These mines are the South Pasture Extension (7500 acres), Wingate East (3600), Ona (22,300) and DeSoto (18,300). The US Army Corps of Engineers Area-wide Environmental Impact Statement (AEIS) was meant to assess the direct and indirect as well as past, present and future consequences of so much phosphate strip mining. 3PR deemed the Final AEIS to be highly inadequate, inaccurate, antiquated and in many instances misleading with a pro-industry bias. Simultaneous with the initiation of the AEIS process Mosaic issued notices seeking US Army Corp Engineers 404 (Dredge and Fill Permits) for the four mines mentioned above.

If the permits are approved Mosaic will have carte blanche to pursue the same kind of environmentally disastrous surface mining operations that have blighted the eco-systems and watersheds of west central Florida for generations.

Mosaic Closes Mine As Profits Plummet 70% Nov. 2013

Mosaic, one of Minnesota’s 10 largest public companies, said its revenue fell almost 30 percent last quarter; its stock, meanwhile, has dropped nearly 20 percent in 2013.

by Kevin Mahoney
November 5, 2013

The Mosaic Company said Tuesday that its third-quarter profit fell 70 percent and that it is closing one of its potash mines in Michigan.

The Plymouth-based potash and phosphate fertilizer provider announced that net earnings for the third quarter, which ended September 30, totaled $124.4 million, or $0.29 per share, down from $417.4 million, or $0.98 per share, during the same period in 2012. Earnings per share were $0.05 lower than what analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected.

Revenue, meanwhile, totaled $1.91 billion, down about 28 percent from $2.65 billion in the third quarter of 2012. Third-quarter revenue fell short of analysts’ projections of $1.97 billion.

Shares of Mosaic’s stock were trading down about 1.65 percent at $45.96 Tuesday afternoon, and they are down roughly 19 percent this year.

President and CEO Jim Prokopanko blamed the weak quarterly results on lower potash and phosphate prices, a late North American fall season, and cautious dealer behavior.

“We believe the current challenges in the environment in which we operate, for both phosphate and potash, are cyclical in nature and provide Mosaic opportunities to deploy capital, including shareholder distributions,” Prokopanko said in a statement. “The long-term outlook for Mosaic remains compelling.”

In addition to closing a mine in Michigan, the company said it would be exiting the “underperforming” Argentina and Chile distribution businesses, to focus more heavily on its growing business in Brazil.

Prokopanko said the company expects pricing to remain challenging going into 2014 and that international demand, especially in India and China, remains unpredictable.

Mosaic is among Minnesota’s 10 largest public companies based on revenue, which totaled $11.1 billion in its most recently completed fiscal year.

Selby Gardens Consorts with Phosphate Industry Oct. 2013

My “Letter to the Editor” (below) was published in the Bradenton Herald Tribune on December 9th. I submitted it simultaneously to the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times, but am unaware that it was published by them since I was out of state at the time….

To hold Selby Gardens accountable for disavowing their stated mission and to inform their leadership of the environmental destruction caused by phosphate strip mining I have also been trying to arrange a meeting with the CEO of Selby Gardens, Mr. Thomas Buchter. He sent me the following short reply:

Dennis, when you are ready to get all nonprofits in the region that have received a grant from Mosaic Co. to support their mission then I will look forward to meeting with you (sic).

Selby Gardens Consorts with Phosphate Industry

Dear Editor,

It is disillusioning, to say the least, to learn that an historic icon of Sarasota, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, accepts financial assistance from the phosphate strip mining company, Mosaic. The Mosaic logo was prominently displayed on the home page of Selby Gardens during the month of October in a $50,000 matching funds agreement for a children’s rainforest exhibit.

Mosaic is more than happy to have its name associated with organizations like Selby Gardens to boost its image as a “friend of the environment,” the thrust of its pervasive public relations campaign conveyed through television ads, public radio sponsorships, billboards, newspaper ads and direct mailings.

How can we forget that the phosphate industry has been ravaging eco-systems and wildlife habitat throughout west central Florida for generations in their quest for ore to manufacture fertilizer products sold on the global market? Phosphate strip mining burdens ground water resources, destroys wetlands and streams, creates thousands of acres of clay waste and toxic chemical disposal sites and permanently altars native soil conditions. Their attempts at “reclamation” have never replicated the fragile native environment that they systematically destroy to enhance their profits.

More specifically phosphate strip mining permanently eradicates the ecological conditions upon which native epiphytes or orchids depend for survival, yet in their mission statement Selby Gardens, which prides itself as being a ” world leader in conservation and display of epiphytes” states that they are committed “… to understand and conserve epiphytes and their natural habitats in a rapidly changing world.”

The phosphate strip mining industry is currently seeking permits to mine an additional 50,000 acres of native Florida prairies, woods and wetlands in Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto Counties. How many more native epiphytes will be permanently lost if these permits are allowed?

It seems to me that Selby Gardens should keep their word to preserve and protect native epiphyte habitats in west central Florida, and not consort with the very industry that is the perpetrator of their demise.

Dennis Mader
People for Protecting Peace River
www.protectpeaceriver.org
4224 Solomon Road
Ona, FL 33865

Phosphorus Pollution: How Mass-Produced Meat Turned Phosphorus Into Pollution Jan. 2014

Phosphorus Pollution Article by Dan Charles
(Article Link)

It’s a quandary of food production: The same drive for efficiency that lowers the cost of eating also can damage our soil and water.

Take the case of one simple, essential chemical element: phosphorus.

Phosphorus is one of the nutrients that plants need to grow, and for most of human history, farmers always needed more of it. “There was this battle to have enough available phosphorus for optimum crop production,” says , a scientist with the University of Maryland’s Wye Research and Education Center, which sits between farm fields and the Chesapeake Bay on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

That’s also the tension in this story: agriculture on one side, and water quality on the other.

Traditionally, farmers got phosphorus from animal manure. So if you grew crops like corn or wheat, it was good to have poultry or hogs nearby. Your grain fed the animals, and their manure fed your crops. Everything worked together.

Then came industrial fertilizer: big phosphorus mines; factories for making the other important nutrient, nitrogen; and railroads or highways to carry that fertilizer to any farmer who needed it.

“With the development of the inorganic fertilizer industry, it’s possible to grow grain without having animals nearby. So you can decouple the animal agriculture from the grain agriculture,” Staver says.

And decouple they did. Farmers concentrated on just one kind of production. So did entire . Georgia, Arkansas and Alabama, for instance, now produce the largest number of chickens — more than a billion of them every year. But they don’t grow much chicken feed. They haul in grain from far away.

As that grain flows from fields to chicken houses, or hog farms, so do the nutrients in it, such as phosphorus and nitrogen.

Some of it goes into meat that people eat, but a lot goes into animal waste.

This is where the problem starts. Farmers near those chicken houses or hog farms often take lots of that manure and spread it on their fields, partly just to get rid of it and partly for its value as fertilizer. Crops, however, need much more nitrogen than phosphorus. When farmers use manure to give their crops an optimal amount of nitrogen, they oversupply phosphorus.

“This is happening everywhere,” Staver says. “Where you have large concentrations of animal production, you tend to have a buildup of nutrients — phosphorus is the one that accumulates — in soils around concentrated animal-producing regions.”

Wherever it accumulates, rain washes it into streams, lakes and estuaries, where it’s an ecological disaster.

“It drives algae growth, so it ends up clouding the water. You don’t get the light penetration to support the rooted aquatic plants that are important in the food chain,” Staver says. “You also get these algae blooms, and when they die, they draw oxygen from the water. You get dead zones.”

In many places, environmental regulators are trying to stop this buildup of phosphorus.

Until recently, it Maryland was taking the lead. The state has a big poultry industry right beside the Chesapeake Bay, which has been choked with nutrient pollution.

Last year, Maryland proposed new rules that would have stopped farmers from putting more phosphorus on any fields that already have too much of it. It required soil tests to determine a key phosphorus index number.

Lee Richardson, a farmer in Willards, Md., was worried. “The word we were getting — if [your fields] were over 150, you weren’t going to spread manure,” he says. Most of his fields are over that level.

The manure ban would have hit him two different ways.

First, he grows chickens; if their manure couldn’t go on his fields, it would have to go somewhere else. “Chances are, growers were going to have to pay to get it hauled away and taken out of the chicken house,” he says.

Second, his corn fields still need nitrogen. Without manure as a nitrogen source, he’d have to buy the manufactured kind of fertilizer, which is more expensive.

Richardson and other farmers protested, arguing that the new rules would inflict huge economic harm, while the environmental benefits are uncertain.

In November, the state of Maryland . It promised to study the issue some more. Kenneth Staver, from the University of Maryland, says it’s not that hard to imagine a solution to the problem.

“The obvious one is, find a way to redistribute the phosphorus from the animal production facilities back to where the crop production is,” he says. The manure would have to travel to the vast fields that farmers currently fertilize with fresh, mined phosphorus.

Hauling manure such distances would cost money. Staver says it’s the price of cleaner, healthier water.

If farmers have to pay that cost, growing chickens or hogs will get more expensive.

Then we, the consumers, would pay for it, through more expensive meat.

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.

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.