People for Protecting Peace River, Inc. (3PR) is a public interest group dedicated to conservation of land and wildlife resources, environmental health, preservation of biological diversity, toxic waste reduction, and the preservation of coastal and freshwater ecosystems – all of which are currently threatened by the phosphate strip mining and fertilizer industry in central Florida. 3PR’s progeny was two organizations seeking to protect the natural environment of the Peace River watershed: DCAP (Desoto Citizens Against Pollution) and HARDCAP (Hardee Citizens Against Pollution).
3PR was formed in August 2008 consolidating HARDCAP and DCAP into a single entity to continue opposing the expansion of phosphate strip mining in the Peace River watershed by increasing its membership to a regional basis, and furthering the goals of its predecessors. The mercurial rise of 3PR’s interventions and responsibilities in response to the rapid expansion of phosphate mining developments has created a situation in which our resources are continually stretched to the utmost – particularly considering that our bailiwick, Hardee County, is almost exclusively agrarian, one of the state’s poorest counties with a high percentage of Hispanic agricultural workers.
We require additional support to muster personnel and opportunities for member recruitment, and much-needed fund-raising to finance our legal efforts.
Phosphate Mining in the Peace River Watershed
The Peace River flows 106 miles from Lake Hancock in Polk County to the Charlotte Harbor Estuary where it provides fresh water to many fish species and aquatic plant life, as well as drinking water for the human population. A total of about 320,000 acres of land have been strip-mined for phosphate in central Florida. A little less than half this area was not covered by mandatory “reclamation” rules which only commenced in 1975.
Most of this strip mining has occurred in the Peace River watershed. Forty percent or 130,000 acres have been left as clay slime impoundments – impermeable surfaces. In 2005 the Peace River was declared an “endangered river” by American Rivers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of North America’s rivers, as a result of dwindling water flow, destruction of flowing springs, and the occurrence of sinkholes in the northern portion of the river.
What the Future Holds
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.