Florida Phosphate Industry Officials, Poor Environmental Stewards?

Over the past seventy years, Florida’s phosphate industry let many man-made severe environmental accidents occur one after another over the years, causing serious environmental impacts to pristine “one of a kind” ecological regions of Florida. Once their serious mishaps occur, industry officials let Florida’s taxpayers end up paying in the millions for the restoration of these “accidents”. The courts work on a legal resolution (for years) concerning the phosphate industry financial and environmental responsibilities if any. The Florida taxpayers are also paying for the court costs, attorney fees, and the like while the court battles continue daily between federal and state environmental agencies versus Florida’s industry officials.Many of the accidents which incidentally phosphate officials still have not reimbursed taxpayers for restoration costs occurred so long ago, most citizens not directly affected have forgotten. One such accident is mentioned below.Accidents occurring such as in Riverview, FL at the local phosphate processing plant causing severe environmental impacts to pristine coastline located on brackish estuaries in the back of Tampa Bay, near the mouth of the Alafia River. Industry environmental protection measures failed to stop the phosphogypsum stack (dam) from collapsing during a tropical rain storm. The overflow of toxic waste includes strong acids, caustics, radioactive materials, and millions of gallons of each. The breach occurred due to lack of risk management planning by the phosphate industry, where phosphate engineering experts warned of possible gypstack failures due to intense rain storms. After all, this is south central Florida, which has a high probability of tropical storms for about six months every year.Industry officials historically make “disastrously” poor decisions concerning their environmental responsibilities and conservation policies (1) designed to mitigate industry accidents to Central Florida’s unique landscape. Why do phosphate officials repeatedly over time, display little concern for their industry responsibilities as environmental stewards? Could Florida’s phosphate officials be uncaring, greedy, and arrogant enough to continue causing severe environmental impacts to sensitive ecosystems without concern?Phosphate industry experts have known what their decisions create over decades but seem unconcerned about their environmental responsibilities. How could this be you ask? The simple answer is politics at its finest. Since the phosphate industry is not held accountable, industry officials believe they are safe from the long arm of the law. After all, millions of dollars are donated (invested) each year for political favors that pay off most of the time. It’s almost a sure bet.So it goes on, the phosphate strip mining industry is moving out of Polk County because their phosphate reserves are depleted. All the environmental damage caused by the industry as a whole is not being restored or reclaimed as Florida law requires. Never the less, Manatee County is the next phosphate industry’s victim.
However, Florida’s phosphate officials are being denied permits by (2) Manatee County, the next Florida County they want to plunder for the phosphate rock it holds. In this case, Manatee County Florida is denying permits to strip mine the Peace River watershed because Manatee County officials know the industry officials are poor environmental stewards. The taxpayers of Manatee County also voiced their opinions and concerns about poor environmental decisions made by industry officials over the last seventy years.The Manatee County Commissioners denied permits to the industry officials because the county commissioners understand the ramifications of strip mining critical environmental ecosystems. It seems Manatee County officials realize the industry practices left Polk County taxpayers to reclaim abandoned phosphate mines at considerable costs. This “permit” legal battle went to the Florida Supreme Court, which sided with the phosphate industry. Interestingly, Florida’s industry officials are being made to “jump through hoops” to get mining permits and are being denied permits by Manatee County officials.Reference1. EPA Abandons Major Radiation Cleanup in Florida, Despite Cancer, nti.org/gsn/article/epa-abandons-major-radiation-cleanup-florida-despite-cancer-concerns/.
2. FLORIDA COUNTY FIGHTS TO CURB PHOSPHATES MINING, nytimes.com/florida-county-fights-to-curb-phosphates-mining.htm

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