EPA Petitioned to Protect Communities, Environment From Radioactive Phosphogypsum Stacks, Wastewater

WASHINGTON— Conservation and public-health groups petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency today to improve federal oversight of the radioactive waste produced by phosphogypsum facilities, including wastewater from phosphoric acid production.

Phosphogypsum and process wastewater from phosphogypsum facilities are currently excluded from certain federal hazardous waste regulations.

Today’s petition asks the EPA to begin overseeing the safe treatment, storage and disposal of phosphogypsum and process wastewater, as required under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Toxic Substances Control Act.

“Many people are living near vulnerable mountains of radioactive, toxic waste known as gypsum stacks without even knowing what they are, let alone the risks to environmental and public health they present,” said Brooks Armstrong, of People for Protecting Peace River. “People living near phosphogypsum stacks, downstream communities, the wider public and wildlife depend on a drinking water supply which flows under these stacks. We deserve maximum protection from these gypsum stacks by our EPA. As of now, we are getting virtually none.”

Phosphogypsum is the radioactive waste from processing phosphate ore into phosphoric acid, which is predominantly used in fertilizer. Radium-226, found in phosphogypsum, has a 1,600-year radioactive decay half-life. In addition to high concentrations of radioactive materials, phosphogypsum and process wastewater can also contain carcinogens and heavy toxic metals like antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, fluoride, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, sulfur, thallium and zinc.

“These towering stacks of radioactive waste continue to pose an unacceptable risk to the environment and nearby communities,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “They’re prone to massive sinkholes and spills that put our groundwater and recreational waters at risk and threaten public health. The EPA must face the facts and act quickly to avert the next environmental disaster.”

The petition asks the EPA, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Toxic Substances Control Act, to:

  • Reverse its 1991 regulatory determination that excludes phosphogypsum and process wastewater from hazardous waste regulations;
  • Govern the safe treatment, storage and disposal of phosphogypsum and process wastewater as hazardous wastes;
  • Initiate the process for designating phosphogypsum and process wastewater as high-priority substances for risk evaluation;
  • Require manufacturers to conduct testing on phosphogypsum and process wastewater; and
  • Determine that the use of phosphogypsum in road construction is a significant new use that requires a determination on whether it is safe.




The DeSoto County Board of County Commissioners will hold a Public Workshop on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, beginning at 9:00 A.M. at the Turner Agri Civic Center (2250 NE Roan Street) in Arcadia. 


Presenters will include:

  • Mike J. Coates, P.G., Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority
  • Shannon Gonzalez, PWS, Flatwoods Consulting Group
  • Sheri A. Huelster, Cardno
  • Anthony J. Janicki, Ph.D., Janicki Environmental, Inc.

After the presentations and Board discussion, the public will have an opportunity to address the Board and present relevant information on the topic being discussed at the Workshop for 3 minutes each, unless otherwise allowed by the Chairman. The meeting will end at the conclusion of the presentations and the discussion. 

Members of the public who wish to present written materials are encouraged to submit such materials to the Board at least 5 business days prior to the Workshop.  No formal action concerning phosphate mining will be taken by the Board at the Workshop.

The meeting is open to the public. However, if you would prefer to participate virtually: 

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 994 0825 5901; Passcode: 719286

One tap mobile: +16465588656,,99408255901#,,,,*719286# US

If special accommodations are required in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals should contact the County Administrator’s Office by calling 863-993-4800 at least forty-eight hours prior to the Workshop.

Environmentalists sue over plan to allow radioactive phosphogypsum in roads

Environmentalists sue over plan to allow radioactive phosphogypsum in roads. The product comes from phosphate mining, which is big business in Florida.

To learn more, visit this article:

Riverview phosphogypsum stack and processing plant that sit right on Tampa Bay, Florida.

EPA approves use of radioactive phosphogypsum in roads

EPA approves use of radioactive phosphogypsum in roads, reversing long-held policy. Supported by the fertilizer industry, the change holds major ramifications for Florida.

To learn more, visit this article:

Riverview phosphogypsum stack and processing plant that sit right on Tampa Bay, Florida.

Billboard Is Up

The Awareness Billboard is now in place along SR 70 west of Arcadia just before entering the proposed strip mining area of Desoto County. With its dramatic colors and juxtaposition of dragline vs rural heritage, this will help bring attention to this imminent threat.

As of this week travelers leaving Arcadia and traveling west to Sarasota on State Road 70 cannot miss a new bill board imploring DeSoto County residents to reject Mosaic’s proposal to mine 18,000 acres just west of Arcadia – roughly along that part of the highway where the billboard is located. This action was approved unanimously by the 3PR Board of Directors many of who took part actively in the design and message it conveys.

Special thanks go out to all 3PR officers who took part in this project and to those members who made contributions to the cost of the sign. 

Although phosphate rock was first discovered in the Peace River in DeSoto County at the end of the 19th century it is the only county in the Bone Valley phosphate mining district that does not have an active mine within its boundaries. The economy of the county is predominantly agricultural. The annual state rodeo is held in Arcadia in an arena that now bears the name of Mosaic,  the world’s leading producer of concentrated phosphate and potash crop nutrients.

 If you wish to support our efforts to oppose phosphate mine expansion and protect  DeSoto County and the Peace River from this destructive industry please make a special contribution to our organization, 3PR (People for Protecting Peace River, Inc). You can send your contribution by PayPal or any other online payment service to or through the Donate page on this website.

Please help us preserve real Florida from a fate that has already ravaged and will possibly destroy the integrity of one of Florida’s most beautiful river systems….

Dennis Mader

Executive Director 3PR