After the Ratt Pack Watch discussed our Water which may have toxicity from the Potash Plant, I decided to read a bit more relating to Phosphate Mining.
Florida’s phosphate ore (matrix) is found some 40 feet below the earth’s surface intertwined with one of the Florida’s real treasures, aquifer systems. Not surprising, mining and mineral processing facilities generate more toxic and hazardous waste than any other industrial sector. Reducing environmental impacts from larger fertilizer manufacturers operations is a national priority for the Environmental Protection Agency.
The United States produces the most phosphate in the world and the Phosphate reserves are found in Central Florida, North Carolina and Idaho. Florida is providing approximately 75% of the nation’s supply of fertilizer and about 25% of the world supply. Now North Carolina is flooding and it will be a problem for the residents across the state as well.
Florida’s phosphate deposits today are the basis of an $85 billion industry, supplying the lions share of the phosphate consumed in the United States. However the phosphate industry is considered a bad neighbor because they are allowed to leave their environmental catastrophes behind for their local citizens to pay for. Interestingly this $85 billion phosphate production area is located in the middle of one of Florida’s greatest treasures called aquifer systems or “Water Tables” These are compared to beehives, where the aquifer system is the hive and the water replaces the honey. This is the basis for Florida’s entire clean fresh water sources.
Hurricane Debby flooded the PotashCorp’s Suwannee River Chemical Complex and caused its processed water system to overflow into its storm water retention system at the near White Springs. Water containing the chemical phosphorus discharged into the ponds, which then overflowed. Some of the water flowed into Swift Creek, which feeds the Suwannee River. The exact amount of the overflow is not known. “The facility conducted initial monitoring for any impacts by measuring pH levels of the discharge due to the very small amounts of phosphoric acid present in the cooling pond. Monitoring by the Department indicated pH levels were normal and indicate no cause for any immediate concern
Although I could not find information about the “Plume” of radioactive waste which is near our wells for White Springs, that Potash Corp cannot contain, there was an incident at a phosphate strip mine thirty miles east of Tampa which through a massive sinkhole had been releasing radioactive waste into the Florida Aquifer for three weeks before it was found.
Mosaic, the owner of the mine, and state officials have known about the problem for the three weeks, but failed to notify the public. The sinkhole formed below a phosphogypsum stack, which is a pile of radioactive waste hundreds of feet tall produced by phosphate mining, and in this case may pose a serious threat to drinking water for millions of Floridians. And this is my fear of the so-called “plume” that cannot be contained near our wells.
“Mosaic wants to mine an additional 50,000 acres of Florida’s beautiful, biodiverse lands, but this incident makes clear it can’t even handle the radioactive waste it currently generates. We must come together and demand that our counties, our state and our federal government reject further expansion of this dangerous industry.”
Radioactive phosphogypsum is produced during phosphate mining when sulfuric acid is applied to phosphoric ore, releasing naturally occurring uranium and radium. Besides leaving massive piles of radioactive waste, this process produces radon gas in the air, which is cancer causing.
Florida is home to the world largest phosphate mine, and now Mosaic wants to strip mine an additional 52,000 acres in Manatee, Hardee and De Soto counties.
Forty percent of the phosphate ore that’s mined in Florida is shipped overseas, but 100 percent of the radioactive phosphogypsum waste that’s generated remains in the United States, the majority of it in Florida, where it stays forever. That’s five tons of radioactive waste for every one ton of usable phosphate.
Phosphate mining creates 60-foot-deep to 80-foot-deep open pits thousands of acres wide. Florida is home to the world largest phosphate mine, and now Mosaic wants to strip mine an additional 52,000 acres in Manatee, Hardee and De Soto counties.
This is not the first time a sinkhole has opened up below a radioactive phosphogypsum stack, nor is it the first time Mosaic has had problems with handling its hazardous waste. In 2009 a sinkhole at the PCS White Springs facility released more than 90 million gallons of hazardous waste waters into the Floridan aquifer. In October 2015 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Mosaic settled a lawsuit regarding a series of alleged violations of how Mosaic handles and stores its hazardous waste, paying civil penalties to the feds and Florida.
So this is not a great thing for White Springs Residents and no wonder, besides asbestos pipes in parts of the East End of Town supplying Drinking Water, no wonder there is so much cancer in the area.
I realize PCS does a great reclamation job, and the HCDA gets money to assist in economic development, but I can honestly say, since White Springs is the closest Town to this toxicity, PCS doesn’t provide White Springs with a lot of benefits nor does the HCDA. That to me is very sad especially when it is a matter of time and our aquifer will suffer. It’s time PCS helped White Springs out with some dollars before the situation with our wells gets worse by at least drilling new wells in another area if possible where their plume won’t hit and to provide us with the 20% deposit on our Sewer System pipe repairs and possibly our water pipes.
When I was much younger, A Vietnamese plant was introduced into the united States and our company secured bids for the insurance. It looked innocuous enough but Joe told me a story about the plant and Atlanta and it was so sad but hilarious I told him he had to write about the situation.
In any event apparently the money is more important than one’s health, but I can tell you that I have not drank the water, but instead take water from our water cooler. The one time, I ran out of water and drank Town Water I received a rash on both of my arms. That was the end of that matter…but no I do not buy designer water, that is only the Town Administration.
I never realized how bad this situation is until the “Watch” mentioned it and I was told it was “Acid” and that is probably the term they used rather than panic the rest of us in White Springs that it is a radioactive phosphogypsum stack
Karin for the blog