Phosphate Mine Threat in Florida

Phosphate Mine Threat in Florida


Dr. George Meanwell

For nearly three generations, the Florida phosphate industry has claimed that any adverse environmental impacts on Florida citizens in surrounding areas are minimal. However, current phosphate industry mining practices conveniently “overlook” what are proven to be sound environmental practices, causing unwanted hazardous collateral damage to the Florida landscape as though it is their “right” to do so.

In the past two decades, the Unites States Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has studied the effects of the radioactive elements that occur naturally in the Florida landscape compared to the highly compacted toxic waste by-product of the Florida phosphate industry. In the areas that are considered economical to mine, the “matrix” layer (which consists of phosphate rock, clay, and sand) is buried well below the surface or “overburden” as it is referred to by the phosphate industry. This toxic by-product (phosphor-gypsum) is left in massive mounds that can be seen throughout central Florida.

These toxic elements are in the decay chain of uranium (called radium) as a solid and radon gas as an air born toxin. These elements are normally confined deep below the surface, but the mighty phosphate dragline strips them from the fabric of the earth until it removes the phosphate matrix it seeks. In doing so, radioactive elements are brought to the surface, highly compacted, and stored in giant highly toxic mounds called phosphor-gypsum stacks (or “gyp stacks”).

The radioactive material is combined with other toxic waste by-products and piled in gyp stacks, some of which are over two hundred feet in height and may cover over four hundred acres. That is the equivalent to a twenty story building covering four hundred acres of radioactive materials. Florida is home to at least twenty seven radioactive gyp stacks and each toxic stack is still growing. The gyp stacks are SO toxic that the DEP will not allow the phosphate industry to move the phosphor-gypsum off site.

The areas around phosphate facilities in central Florida usually consist of agricultural area, with some residential. The surrounding flora absorb the toxic elements caused by phosphate mining, and store cumulative amounts of toxins so that toxic materials move from the ground into the food chain, primarily through agriculture and cattle ranching. Both domesticated and wild animals are exposed to the same tainted food sources, introducing the toxins into the entire local food chain.

In one decade, at least six gyp stacks have failed in west central Florida due to their massive weight. When a gyp stack “fails” it causes a surface collapse sinkhole to form in the bottom of the gyp stack, and can then allow billions of gallons of toxic waste to drain through the sinkhole and into Floridian aquifer system. In one stack failure, the amount of environmental damage was so extensive that the DEP was unable to determine the total loss associated with the spill.

In another stack failure, a 150 foot hole opened under a gyp stack and 80 million tons of radioactive toxic waste disappeared into the Floridian aquifer, which contains about 90 percent of central Florida’s drinking water. The toxic waste amount overwhelmed officials so much that the amount of environmental damage was again, undetermined. It cost almost $7 million to fill the sinkhole with concrete. In another phosphate industry induced accident, a gyp stack failed and almost 2 million gallons of radioactive toxic waste flowed over the landscape and two cars driving by the plant were carried away with the flow of toxic waste.

In another gyp stack breach in Riverview, Florida, it cost nearly $30 million in repair costs for the phosphate plant. The cost to recover from the severe local environmental impacts that were caused by the failed gyp-stack were covered by Florida taxpayers. Each time a phosphate industry “accident” occurs, both water and air quality degrade, causing health issues for many Floridians as well.

Sadly, central Florida’s phosphate industry locates their facilities in watersheds where the production of fertilizer causes the greatest environmental damage to the landscape, drinking water, wild animals, and human inhabitants. Phosphate facilities severely pollute and disrupt the landscape locally and miles away from mining operations due to phosphate facilities built in central Florida’s watershed. This is because watersheds and lowlands are nature’s way of cleaning toxic materials from drinking water resources as the water percolates through karst rock formations into Florida’s aquifers below.

Florida’s phosphate facilities are considered by the DEP to be the greatest threat to Florida’s

environment including land and aquatic life forms. Indisputably, the greatest offender is The Mosaic Company, which in 2016 allowed over 200 million gallons of radioactive water to be dumped into the aquifer in Polk County. This happened despite the fact that there were indications that a sinkhole was forming, and the threat of contamination was kept hidden from neighbors.

The examples mentioned above illustrate the poor environmental stewardship from the phosphate industry, which is now focused on north-central Florida. However, the Hazen, Howard, Pritchett, and Shadd families (organized as HPS II Enterprises) have proposed a massive phosphate mining operation together with Mosaic on over 10,000 acres that span portions of both Bradford and Union counties.

HPS II Enterprises is a new company with no experience in what it is trying to do. They claim to have a new mining procedure, but have provided no evidence of this. Rather, they have shown blatant disregard for proper legal procedures, with three recent violations. Specifically, they were cited on March 15, 2016 by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) for engaging in dredge and fill activities in wetlands with no permits, and making illegal drainage ditches. They also admitted to the construction of 38 water wells without permits, receiving only a miniscule fine of $400 from SRWMD.

The fact that HPS II Enterprises partner, Mosaic Company has had numerous spills and contaminations in the past, and yet continue to pollute should give us pause. However, Jack Hazen brazenly boasts that, “God has made me his instrument to make this project a reality.” Like the legendary tycoons (e.g., J. Pierpont Morgan, Alfred Vanderbilt, etc.) of the previous century, this is a man who cares only about increasing his massive fortune, with no real regard for the sanctity of human life or the health of others.

There are many reasons to reject this and ALL phosphate mining in Florida, as it is one of the most polluting industries that we have in this state. Contrary to what Mosaic Company and other “experts” say, we do not need the phosphate industry here. Phosphorus is a renewable resource and reliable estimates indicate that we have enough phosphate rock resources to last between 300 and 400 more years.

Most importantly, Florida is far more vulnerable to damage from phosphate mining than any other state for the simple reason that its sub-surface geology is dramatically different. Underneath a thin layer of dirt, the entire Florida peninsula has a sub-surface that is essentially a porous plateau of carbonate rock that is not solid, but rather, contains numerous

watersheds that store and transmit groundwater, in what is referred to as the “Floridian aquifer system.” These permeable aquifers contain almost all of the fresh water resources for the population of north-central Florida.

Additionally, the phosphate mine proposed by HPS II Enterprises in Bradford and Union counties poses substantial water impacts on the Santa Fe River system, including harmful draw-down and pollution. The river is a major economic resource for its adjacent area. HPS II Enterprises has proven to be irresponsible in respecting rules and regulations, and the probability of an environmental catastrophe is high. The threat of a phosphate mine to the Santa Fe River system alone is catastrophic.

Phosphate mines have been shown to threaten and cause serious and long-lasting harm to Florida’s natural resources, and most importantly its aquifer system and the drinking water for millions of Florida citizens. The phosphate industry in Florida has a long history of accidents, environmental destruction and bankruptcy, leaving behind millions in liabilities that taxpayers have had to clean up. The proposal of a phosphate mine in north-central Florida by HPS II Enterprises is wrong for many reasons. People like those running HPS, who sell their souls in such small quantities – believing that they are within their rights, but allowing a seemingly trivial compromise here or rationalization of a minor evil there – really don’t realize what they’re doing until it is too late.


Florida Phosphate Mines Show Adverse Effects On The Environment, David Hammock, http://

Phosphate Companies and EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, phosphate-primer/phosphate-companies-and-epas-toxic-release-inventory/

NCSU Water Quality Group, Human Impacts: Wetland Loss and Degradation, watershedss/info/wetlands/wetloss.html

Conservation Report February 2017, Suwannee – St. Johns Group Sierra Club, conservation-report-february-2017/

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34 thoughts on “Phosphate Mine Threat in Florida

  1. Chia Cha

    Is there any chance to organize political referendum by which people would be able to ban opening and work of such mines on those locations? How many signs must be collected to put that question on ballot? Why there is not facebook app to inform “little capitalists” how and when to protect their small properties, property which is in agregate bigger then property of all fortune top 100 companies on world, from interest much smaller but much more concentrated capital. System will never allow for small capital to unite it self and get any political power, system only respect interest of concetrated capital no matter how small it is. That is pure and blatant fascism. One mafia member willing to shoot president of Flordia’s republican party in this system have more political power then whole population of Florida. I guess other option is to start Kickstarter or Indiegogo and collect money to buy state politicians but that is illegal becuase again that would money comming from small people therefore that would be banned. And owner of Indiegogo would be owner of that money or person who collected that money… Simply system is set up in a way to serve only and only members of 1%. Only what is possible in this system is to establish company owned and controlled by whole Florida where every member would have right to vote no matter how much money he invested – one member one vote. Whos mission would be to pay political campaign and organize political referendums for members to know when and where to collect signatures. Buecause no private company, and no political party have any interest to allow interest of majority to rule.

  2. Chia Cha

    Model of North Korea should be path which would show how US can remain good guy, and only constructive policeman of the world. Mike Pompeo is promising real capital from work, which existed in US until 1980, to North Korea, from time when americans were really good guys (before Chicago school of economics). Of course, if you are good guy, you will get capital from work, and if you are bad guy, you will get wall street capital. I admit US have every right to chose which capital is to be chosen. Such news are hope for better future for everybody. It is good that US stopping ideological communist lunacy where only wall street rentier capital is only capital to exist and to used.

    1. Chia Cha

      After that i recommend South Korean/US capital to be invest in Uzbekistan which borders Afganistan. And that North Korean KGB helps take control of Uzbek KGB.

  3. Jason

    Chemical fertilizers work on chelation in the soil. As a result, microbial life, just like our intestinal flora, dies off massively, slowly creating toxic soil and a soil food web that gets taken over by the nasty microbes that arise from NO competition in the soil. You have two choices. Chemically induces electro-plasmic reactions around roots that force feed the plant, or a complex biological, free market capitalistic plasma field created by sentient LIFE. We all should know which one is better for us by now. It appears that to many, ALL life must be destroyed.

    1. Chia Cha

      Best new capital creation is destruction of something which is unnoticed and was before considered unimportant, but can be split and measured by capitalists using bureaucracy. Bureacurcy is only capital creator in capitalism.

      1. Jason

        You have no concept of what capital is. Healthy soil has trillions of microbes per gram of soil that want to work. They reproduce about every 20 minutes. That is capital. Spinach is capital. So is shovel, rake, desire, creativity, heirloom seeds, sunshine, rain. The soil food web is free market capitalism at it’s finest. A communist approach is making everything a non threat through the murder of all life and achieving sterile life, sterile environment, sterile mind. Fruit and vegetable is a capacitor. Galactic knowledge flows into healthy organic food through the symbiosis of key fungi. You should study fungi, and you will understand a deeper level of capitalism. This box you reason within seems like a straight jacket. I would not survive like that.

        1. Chia Cha

          No you are right, that is real capital, I agree. Before ruling capitalists (in feudalism) German settlers would go to Crimea to get free land because land was everything, heck they went to Belize also, because land as real capital was real capital. And today you can buy agricultural land for free here, because real capital (land) and work is made worthless (because you are not able acumulate extra capital)… Capitalsits via bureaucrats just like communists made something what everyone have worthless to it can be bought more cheaply. You forget that capitalists are only buying something when it is cheap, and sell it only when it is expensive. That is why I am for democratic feudalism.

          1. Jason

            Replace the word capital with liquidity and I agree. What might be needed is crypto-barter system with live time adjusted values so that if I have 200 pounds of onions, we can establish instant value in trades across full range of capital. Silver, gold, fuel, water, turnips, cattle, goats. The constant queering of the liquidity game is getting old. I am a peaceful man, but the banking clans are asking for death. Living in a prison without walls is still a prison, and the natives are getting restless.

          2. Chia Cha

            I have solution for hardest possible google maps connected currency there is.

        2. Chia Cha

          And do not worry, war agianst land no one every won. Communists fell down when they started taking land from peasants. Before great leap forward and after noble and pro-peoples redistribution of land to small peasants, communists started forced collectivization of land, that was their end. They started pillage of land in the name of state (main and only capitalist)… Now capitalist oligarchy will do same with GMO and their seeds (collectivisation). That is why capitalists will also go to dust bin of history. Of course buraucracy will give them patent rights and patents rights will be derived capital, derived as transfer of capital from peasant for capitalist (polibureau). Greed will destroy them like what happened to communists.

        3. Chia Cha

          Mao Ze Dong deserves The Middle Class award of century, he created middle class in US, with blood and sweat of so many chinese workers. See how God loved America back then before feminism and scientific racist atheism. When American capitalists saw these pictures they were scared like little birds.

          1. Jason

            It is in this way that Europe is a cautionary tale. Your open borders and wrist cutting is a warning. As to scientific racist atheism, you ignore the impact of culture on epigenetics, inbreeding, abuse, and the racism of such groups against you yourself. Genetic memory is real. You don’t have to agree, but Europe is drowning in it. My new app for those who are planning suicide is to facilitate the liquidation of their possessions ahead of time so that I get a cut off of the event while they die with a few dollars in their pocket and a sense of encouragement that they are doing the right thing. I was also thinking about a suicide theme park. We book people to die like historical figures, or entertainers while a paying crowd pays top dollar to see the events. Merchandising would be key. Want to die like JFK. No problem. Many would pay top dollar to be near the grassy knoll and snap their pictures. Die like a Christian in ancient Rome. Go down with honor and a fight against the tigers. We can book such events all around the world, plus international waters. Some may want to be crucified during an eclipse. Perhaps a Joan of Ark theme. The possibilities are endless.

          2. Chia Cha

            Popular biberal atheist scientists are worse then immigrants because they with their heads filled with newspaper ideology which is putting
            putting in danger immigrants and natives. And are motor for rise of nazism. When liberation starts they will be my first target.

          3. Jason

            You are way too late by decades. The nazis in EU have already won. They may not survive, but they most certainly have captured the flag.

          4. Chia Cha

            You are right, but what is your explanation, you remember when Merkel said multiculturalism was dead, then after she said that real party with immigrants started. Did she really changed her mind and why she did it?

          5. Jason

            I doubt my explanation will make it through the sniffer. It’s a waste of time. Your friends the central bankers are the ones to investigate first. Otherwise, you are just wasting time and energy. There is a distinct relationship between interest rates and government policies. Start with the BIS history and put your names together. It’s cute when you name the heads of the Hydra with all your labels and pretend that they’re not connected to the same body, running off the same heart beat. Ignore the bankers and you just end up dancing on their strings. Hitler’s dream for Europe had only a few moves left to solidify. Trump played his trump card by pulling out of the Iran deal. Now it gets interesting.

          6. Chia Cha

            Temple economy started when there was enough food to sustain clergy caste, with development of agriculture and irrigation. They were keeping notes about stored and collected food, and would start issuing papers to those who would store it. I do not see how can it be anyhow different? Right now we have temples united, only alternative is to take it from capitalists and give it to bureaucrats.

          7. Chia Cha

            If we would give it to elected bureaucrats that would be last election we would see. If we would give it to unlected bureaucrats elections would continue like now.

          8. Jason

            Live in the past. Die in the past. Evolution doesn’t require either of us. We must compete. Even liquidity system must evolve. You decide. Or don’t. I can guarantee one thing. I am not just another brick in the wall.

          9. Chia Cha

            I told you I have decentralized solution for proper paper issue, and they would allow in academia, on space ships, on antartica. Heck it is going to be necessity there. But on Earth among mobilization mass temple would not allow it. Solution must be techical to be part of culture of course. Technical culture.

          10. Jason

            What is your solution?

          11. Chia Cha

            Every person needs own antena, server, solar power source, and then you need same program language and hard disk on each, wich would write all changes happening on each of personal servers. Of course systen works while there is one person – one server. Every server or associate groups of servers recognizes other as such, whole human culture would be to secure that there really is one server unite per person. Then you can have free society. Of course if temple would secure that there is police force protecting few owners do not come in your house and make slave out of you with force. Therefore again temple decides. But that would be maximum temple would be able to give.

          12. Jason

            Why not downsize the server into a chip, and we can just have it in our arm or forehead with appropriate barcode on back of neck. With 5G roll out, it could be a tidy solution. Self driving Uber can track barcode through headrest. Automated bed can raise to vertical to wake me for my shift as mechanical arm picks me up out of bed and runs me through decontamination shower. I could still have pleasure of dressing myself into uniform provided by one government/corporation/bank/religion/cult. As failsafe, the chip will be armed with cyanide solution in case someone thinks the wrong thought. The body politic could become like real human body with quantum fluctuations of single photon as heartbeat of civilizational consciousness. I foresee US crypto-dollar as possibility also. I am joking with you of course. I do believe I understand your idea however. A universal real time ledger system without the usury is what I think you are referring to. I knew you were a capitalist.

          13. Chia Cha

            You can rule by lie or by terror, for terror (usury) to be minimal, people must trust lie that they are free the most. People do trust lie more easily if they are really more free then others. The more free they are the more, cultures around them. they are able to have, to work for them. That is ultimate for of exploitation. My ideology says that everyone must be exploited in maximum by the culture which is able to exploit the most. Exploitation in classical Marxist sense is good. That is were Marxism is wrong. Ultimately I am super ultimate mega capitalist. Marxist are wrong when they tell us it bad to be cheated. How can you be cheated if you are having maximum from everyone?

          14. Jason

            You’re alright Chia. Your concept of new liquidity system is also interesting.

          15. Chia Cha

            I know, but problem is that no one from 1% would invest money to test that. Only 0.000000001% would. And because system works in way that only 1% can be connected with 0.0000000001%, 1% filters all such thing from 0.000000001%. If I would send letter to DARPA they would not even tell me to F… off… Imagine slave telling whipper that he have something to tell to boss, especially that boss should should change whipper with someone who hits better.

          16. Jason

            Now that you have identified carbon footprint of public enemy number one, what happens next?

          17. Chia Cha

            Well I sent letter to DARPA. Now we will see.

    2. Chia Cha

      Without fear from death capitalism or capitalists cannot work. Without fear from death capitalists become lazy like in South America. In south america capitalists are on vacation almost every day, and their return on investment is much better. Capitalists won in south america by merging with misery of paganism (atheism) so now they do not want to create more slaves under lower prices because they would just create more disturbancies. They said why we should work if we won. Sponges are on strike in south america. They have enough victims and their temples are working under stable schudle down there. Heck even Connan O Brians says Haiti is great, he was on vaction there.

    3. Chia Cha

      US capitalists conserved capitalism in south america so they get reserve continent in case of nuclear war. Ron Paul nazi capitalists are buying land in ParagVWay all the time like Doug Casey. That is why capitalists in US are also becoming lazy. F americans if we with fleet can go south. Only problem for american capitalists right now is how to leave all those wearehouses full of arms to american people when they run to south america with navy. That is only reason why american have any kind of material standard right now. If they would be able to solve that question then they would be able to create Nigeria or Yeltsin Russia out of US.





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