Florida Department of Environmental Protection Schedules Public Meeting on Phosphate Mining for September 30

Sept. 25, 2019 – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will host a public meeting at the Mulberry Civic Center on September 30 from 4-7 p.m. The purpose is to hear public comments from residents who are trying to stop the renewal of the permit that allows Mosaic’s Bartow Chemical Plant to discharge industrial waste into the Peace and Alafia rivers as well as the Florida aquifer.

Last spring more than three dozen Florida residents joined forces with concerned citizens Norma Killibrew and Luz Elena Bueno to file a 75-page written request for the public hearing as a forum to discuss and debate how to protect millions of people’s public water supply and well water as well as the future of the Sun Coast from the dangers of phosphate mining. This was the third request Ms. Killibrew and Ms. Bueno filed with the DEP. The first one for Mosaic’s Lonesome Mine was dismissed for a technical reason. The second for Mosaic’s Four Corners Mine has remained in limbo since January.

Phosphate mining giant Mosaic is a Fortune 500 company, with its largest operations in Central Florida where it has permits to discharge industrial waste into multiple rivers that flow into the Gulf, as well as discharge waste water into the aquifer. Mosaic states that it treats the millions of gallons of waste it discharges daily into the rivers and the aquifer. However, the treatment doesn’t remove the cancer-causing heavy metals that settle in waste ponds and streams before reaching the rivers where the water is pulled out for the public drinking water supply.

“Before flowing into the Gulf, both the Peace and Alafia rivers and the aquifer are the main sources of drinking water for 10 counties and multiple cities, including North PortAnna Maria and Tampa. Every single public water provider in the region pulls drinking water from those sources. There is no independent water monitoring in place at the discharges to protect the public drinking water supply. Mosaic performs its own testing, self-reports and even the company’s own monitoring wells show levels above compliance for multiple highly toxic and cancer-causing contaminants in the aquifer, including alpha radiation, radium, sulfate, fluoride, sodium, arsenic and more,” said Ms. Bueno.

“In the Peace River, Mosaic is not even complying with its self-reporting requirement. The company claims lack of access doesn’t allow it to test the waste dumped into the river. In addition, the waste discharged into the NP Alafia River exceeds the levels the DEP established in 2013 for chlorophyll a, which represents cyanobacteria in the water. So, while the beaches suffer the consequences of cyanobacteria infested water, the DEP is allowing Mosaic to dump cyanobacteria into the rivers before they flow into the Gulf,” said Ms. Killibrew, a 76-year old woman who has spent most of her life in Central Florida’s phosphate mining region.

Counties most affected are CharlotteSarasotaManateeHillsboroughPinellasPascoDesotoHardee and Polk Counties. Everyone who lives in Central and SW Florida is potentially affected by this permit and is encouraged to attend, write letters, and get involved.

To learn more about the process of filing written concerns with the DEP or for more information on phosphate mining in Florida, contact Luz Elena Bueno at 646-610-1310 lebg@aol.com or Norma Killibrew at 813-400-4359.

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