The north side of Mosaic Fertilizer’s large phosphogypsum stack at its Uncle Sam plant rises in 2015 near Convent in St. James Parish. At the time, the stack was 187 feet high. It holds phosphogypsum, a waste byproduct from processing phosphate rock to make fertilizer. State officials said Friday, Jan. 25, 3019, that parts of this wall are shifting slowly and could be at risk of collapse. The wall holds back acidic process water from the plant.
This article from The Advocate newspaper in Louisiana should raise concern for Florida. We are faced with the same issues. Hurricanes anyone? Take a look at the drone flyover of a gypstack indicated in the article. We’re not sure if it’s the one in crisis but it’s an interesting view.
This link is to a rebuttal of the Mosaic Fertilizer’s aren’t we wonderful articles that appeared in an earlier edition of the Arcadian newspaper. That article (parts 1 &2) can be reviewed in a 01-29-19 post on this website. The rebuttal was prepared by Andy Mele of Suncoast Waterkeepers https://www.suncoastwaterkeeper.com
Planning to move to Hardee County? Looking for a job that isn’t mine related? Or maybe you have a small business searching for a home? Well, let’s hope you don’t go to Wikipedia to find out about the county you plan to invest in. Wikipedia is one of the top 5 websites on the internet. If you type Hardee County, FL into a Wikipedia search and scroll down to the Geography section, this is what you will currently find:
“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 638 square miles (1,650 km2), of which 638 square miles (1,650 km2) is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) (%) is water.”
“Hardee County is located in what is known as the “Bone Valley” which contains most of North America’s phosphate deposits and a large portion of the world’s deposits. Phosphate is mined in large open pit mines with massive settling ponds that contain many harmful byproducts of the mining process and its disposal and use are restricted thus leaving the settling ponds in place indefinitely and rendering the land unfit for agriculture The Mosaic company currently owns all mining land in Hardee County with around 10,000 acres near Fort Green and is proposing an expansion of around 27,000 acres in a new mine near Ona, FL. There is much controversy over the mining practice, the rezoning and conversion of agricultural land into open pit mines. Land is “reclaimed” after mining but leaves areas of mostly artificially created lakes and wetlands in addition to the slightly poisonous and radioactive settling ponds. The proposed Ona mine would surround Horse Creek, a tributary to the Peace River, thus threatening the very pristine and largely untouched natural waterway as well as the Peace River watershed.”
Well now, that sounds like just the place to raise a family or start a business. With all the beautiful, untainted areas of Florida to choose from, why would anyone want to move here? The reality is this is a beautiful area with lots of great people. Sadly, the very thing that should draw people here, the land and the water, are being destroyed at an alarming rate.
A lot of mining has already gone on and the Ona mine will be immense . Can it be stopped before it’s too late? Can the new mine overlay on the east side be prevented? Get involved and do what you can to stop this madness.
This is a link to the articles (Parts 1 and 2) in the Arcadian January 17, 2019 and January 24, 2019, both on the front page A01. An interview with Russell Schweiss, Mosaic’s vice president for Mine Permitting, Land Management and Public Affairs. How many comments do YOU agree with?
A letter in the Arcadian Jan 24, 2019, page A-4 in response to a previous interview with Mosaic on mining in Desoto County
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
See what’s happening out there
Mr. Garrett, I think you need to step out of your office and check out the protests and commissioners’ meetings in other counties, because the citizens certainly don’t welcome Mosaic with open arms (Arcadian Jan. 17). Hundreds have attended or marched in opposition. The type of fertilizer application Mosaic promotes has proven detrimental to our waterways, and considering the effects on our local fisheries, is not feeding the world. The world is fed by small farms. Sustainable farming is much less harmful to the environment.
Mosaic’s VP described a Ft. Meade that is prosperous. Yet within the city center, building vacancy rate is 27.4 percent, higher than 92.9 percent of U.S. neighborhoods. Some 18.8 percent live in poverty. This doesn’t sound prosperous to me.
Mosaic has proven itself to be a poor neighbor to those who live nearby, or were forced to move due to the loss of their quality of life. The first-hand stories I have heard are heart-breaking. Mr. Schweiss brags about Mosaic’s environmental safety record, contradicted by witness accounts, and most seriously displayed by their long delay in reporting the massive gypstack sinkhole, which he tries to divert attention from. Sinkholes in regions that are mined are not a coincidence, as Mosaic’s massive use of water is not mentioned either, nor are the outflows pumping diluted pollutants into our precious creeks. Rick Scott’s DEP has removed and lowered protections, and I am proud of our own commissioners for protecting our beautiful DeSoto County. Informed people don’t greet bullies with open arms. Behind Mosaic’s glad-handing stands a big bully.
As noted in the January 24, 2019 Arcadian Newspaper, Business Briefs, page A-16
Filmmaker to document phosphate mining
Los Angeles filmmaker Erik E. Crown has been in DeSoto County and other central Florida locations to document phosphate mining and the possible health risks that it poses, Crown said in a visit to Arcadia on Monday. A freelance producer associated with documentary films on illegal pet exports and environmental issues, Crown is investigating potential health risks such as emphysema, radiation exposure, waterway contamination and cancers linked to phosphate mining, he said. His interests stem from social media posts from locals opposing phosphate mining in central Florida. Crown plans to release a feature-length documentary on phosphate mining that’s timed to major film festivals, he said. Phosphate giant Mosaic Fertilizer seeks to mine nearly 25,000 acres in DeSoto County, has multiple mining and processing operations throughout Florida.
On January 19, 2019 about 50 concerned citizens, including members of 3PR and fellow organizations, turned out to raise awareness of the environmental tragedy that is phosphate mining. Armed with handmade posters and sunscreen we stood, facing passing motorists on the south end of the US 41 bridge in Punta Gorda. We were there for several hours, waiving at passing cars and discussing the impact of strip mining Florida.
There was a steady stream of cars and trucks passing by. Many honked horns and waived in support. It was a great way to reach hundreds of people, some of whom may know little if anything about the terrible legacy that mining will leave with Florida if it’s allowed to continue. A legacy made of tens of thousands of acres of radioactive “soil”, radioactive waste piles called phosphogypsum stacks, and huge clay settling slime pits. And no permanent jobs.
If you have the opportunity to attend an assembly like this you will not regret it. A great chance to meet fellow concerned citizens and to raise the awareness of this continuing disaster facing our state.
Our children will be most impacted by mining’s legacy
Mosaic is pursuing an increased mining overlay to allow phosphate mining to continue eastward in Hardee County. Here is the county staff report that briefly discusses the matter. View it or download it to your files. The BOCC will be meeting on this matter on January 3, 2019. Public comment is needed.