This article was presented in the McClatchy DC Bureau publication January 21, 2017. Written by Tony Pugh, it presents many impacts of phosphate mining and some of the myriad efforts being made to counter it. To review the article in the publication format, click below.
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.
Battle over phosphate mining roils small Fla. town
Clip: 10/31/2018 | 7m 53s PBS NewsHour Presentation
Phosphate mining is a major industry in Florida, but it’s also a major source of pollution, responsible for red tide, toxic algal blooms and killing wildlife. In the northern part of the state, residents of a small town are resisting a man who wants to mine phosphate near their homes. Can the local government balance individual rights and with community health concerns? Laura Newberry reports.
This links to an article in the Tampa Bay Times dated May 28, 2018 by Craig Pittman. A update on the disaster two years ago.
This press release from the Center for Biological Diversity discusses the recent appeal of our challenge to the Army Corp and the AEIS (Area Wide Environmental Impact Study) regarding the South Pasteur Extension Mine in Hardee County.
The largest fertilizer manufacturing plant in the world sits about six miles southwest of the Polk County hamlet of Mulberry, with its entrance in walking distance of the Hillsborough County line. About 800 employees work there, turning phosphate rock into nearly 5 million tons of fertilizer and animal food ingredients every year.
They also produce a lot of waste. That’s not unusual for the phosphate industry.
Drive through much of the Florida peninsula and the land you see is flat—flat as a pancake, flat as a billiard table, flat as a contestant on The Voice who’s about to get the boot. But at the Mulberry plant, and everywhere else the phosphate industry operates, you’ll see mountains. These are massive piles of waste materials called phosphogypsum that are left over from the fertilizer manufacturing process. They rise up to 200 feet high and cover some 400 acres. On top of each one is a pond of acidic water from 40 to 80 acres in size.
Many of those mountains belong to the same company that owns the Mulberry fertilizer plant, Mosaic. It’s the biggest phosphate company in the world and a major presence in Florida. Mosaic is currently mining phosphate rock on more than 70,000 of the 380,000 acres it owns in Manatee, Hillsborough, Polk and Hardee counties. Meanwhile, despite vocal public opposition, it recently won local government approval to expand its mining in Manatee County by more than 3,000 additional acres just a short drive from Sarasota County’s northern boundary—and from the source of its water supply.
Letters to the Editor
Saturday, Feb 11, 2017
Would mining activities preclude future normal uses of mined out lands? This is question #6 from the Manatee County staff report, Standards for Master Mining Approval, page 13.
The answer is much more than staff reports. Not only building, but agriculture on reclaimed land would be extremely limited. Is the burden of proof not on the applicant? The market has not demonstrated that agriculture is a viable use of reclaimed mine land.
Mosaic may have their small, intensely managed experiments with ag after mining, however, vast areas of western Polk County demonstrate no agriculture to speak of on reclaimed land. The only exception is a rare siting of a few cows on grazing land.
Go to Hardee County. In 2008, a “Mosaic Agreement” granted the county economic gurus 42 million dollars over a ten year period as compensation for the 11,000 acre South Fort Meade Extension mine. The county will tell you is for economic mitigation in the post-mining economy. This money hopes to start up industry, but the results have been questionable at best. Is this not an admission even by the industry itself that after mining and reclamation, lands will not support the former economy of agriculture.
One time, temporary use; permanent loss. Phosphate strip mining is only profitable for Mosaic. Commissioners, think ahead one hundred years. Vote for Manatee County. Vote no on phosphate mining.
Bone Valley resident
Four environmental groups have put the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on notice that they’ll sue if the Corps follows through with authorizing phosphate mining on more than 50,000 acres of land in Central Florida. The environmentalists say the strip mining damages wildlife habitat and endangers drinking water and they’re threatening to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well.
“The Army Corps of Engineers has recently approved the phosphate mining development of about 50,000 acres of central Florida and this is predominately in Hardee, Manatee County areas and a little bit in DeSoto County. Most recently, they approved 7,500 acres of mining to start eminently, any moment now, in Hardee County.
“All this mining is going to be taking place in a region known as Central Florida Phosphate District. It’s an area that has seen tremendous phosphate mining over almost the last century. If you go out to that area, which is just east of Tampa, you’ll see the scars from historic phosphate mining.
“Before 1975, phosphate mines didn’t have to be reclaimed. If you’re ever in an airplane over that region of Florida, you’ll see these, sort of really pretty colored bluish-green bodies of water, like lakes, in these strips. That’s the legacy of strip-mining in Florida for phosphate. Since 1975, the companies have been forced to reclaim the land, which is to put it back to some sort of beneficial use, but, not necessarily to restore it.
“Our concern with this 50,000 acres of additional mining is first, it leaves a huge footprint on Florida. You’re removing 50,000 acres of habitat for imperiled species like, the eastern indigo snake and the crested caracara. Also, you’re adding to our existing phosphogypsum problem.
for complete article http://www.wmnf.org/environmentalists-sue-corps-florida-phosphate-mining/
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