Category Archives: Phosphate

Florida Gov. DeSantis Urged to Declare State of Emergency Due to Red Tide 2021-07-19

“The Suwannee River Basin has been lucky in avoiding red tide so far, but we don’t want it anywhere,” said John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper. “Beyond this emergency, let’s stop the excess fertilizers and phosphate mine waste that are causing this problem.”

Several other Florida Waterkeepers signed the letter, as did Waterkeepers Florida, representing all the Waterkeepers of Florida.

[Red tide warning, beach closure sign in St. Petersburg, Fla.: Jaclyn Lopez, Center for Biological Diversity.]
Red tide warning, beach closure sign in St. Petersburg, Fla.: Jaclyn Lopez, Center for Biological Diversity.

“Tampa Bay hasn’t been this sick since the 1970s when Clean Water Act regulations brought about the bay’s recovery,” said Justin Bloom, Suncoast Waterkeeper board member. “It is with a groundswell of public support that we call on our governor for leadership to protect and restore our bays and waterways.”

“Our right to clean water has been jeopardized and now is the time for action to protect Tampa Bay,” said Megan Eakins, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper board chair. “Our area needs the full support of our governor to take the actions necessary to mitigate this disaster and ensure this does not happen again.”

“Failure to remove dead and decaying marine life will exacerbate the intensity and duration of the red tide event,” said Andre Mele, executive director of Peace+Myakka Waterkeeper. “Dead marine life releases nutrients into the water column, which feeds the red tide organism and adds to the bloom, in a classic positive feedback loop.”

Plus the international Waterkeeper Alliance.

“Nearly 50 years ago, amid the era of burning rivers and rampant environmental degradation, the Clean Water Act was enacted, and yet almost five decades later, too many decision-makers continue to ignore the lessons history has taught us,” said Patience Burke, Waterkeeper Alliance organizer for the Gulf and South Atlantic regions. “We are bearing witness to an ecological catastrophe and will face judgment over the next 50 years about how we do, or do, not respond.”

Gov. DeSantis Urged to Declare State of Emergency Due to Red Tide

Hundreds of Tons of Dead Marine Animals Have Been Collected From Tampa Bay, Including Six Manatees

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— More than two dozen local businesses and conservation groups today asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency due to the ongoing red tide and fish kills in and around Tampa Bay. The St. Petersburg city council and mayor also have requested that the governor declare a state of emergency to help coordinate and fund desperately needed cleanup efforts and mitigate the worsening red tide.

The red tide appeared in Tampa Bay shortly after Florida regulators, in March, authorized the discharge of up to 480 million gallons of wastewater from the Piney Point phosphogypsum stack into Tampa Bay.

The Piney Point gypstack is a mountain of toxic waste topped by an impoundment of hundreds of millions of gallons of process wastewater, stormwater and tons of dredged spoil from Port Manatee. So-called “nutrient pollution” like ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorous from that discharge can significantly worsen red tides.

The hundreds of tons of dead marine life discovered in recent weeks has included manatees and goliath groupers, which can weigh hundreds of pounds, as well as puffer fish, eel, horseshoe crabs, sheepshead, mullet, snook, red drum, tarpon, sharks, grouper, catfish and numerous other species of fish.

“Red tide’s carnage is horrific and infuriating,” said Continue reading

Petition to EPA: protect from radioactive phosphogypsum stacks

Many groups in many states yesterday petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve federal oversight of radioactive waste and wastewater from phosphogypsum stacks.

“WWALS opposes expansion of the decades-old moonscape of a phosphate mine in Hamilton County, and another proposed in Union and Bradford Counties,” said John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper. “These mines not only suck up massive amounts of water that reduce spring and river flows, they feed ever-growing phosphogypsum stacks with radioactive waste.”

PCS Phosphate Mine, 2016-10-22, WWALS Southwings flight
PCS Phosphate Mine 2016-10-22, Southwings flight for WWALS, pictures by Jim Tatum, https://wwals.net/?p=32043


For Immediate Release, February 8, 2021 Continue reading

Titanium mine expansion on SRWMD land SE of Starke, Bradford County, Florida 2019-10-17

Update 2019-10-19: Videos: Chemours titanium mine expansion, Bradford BOCC 2019-10-17.

What is the point of SRWMD buying land if it’s going to let it be strip-mined for titanium?

[Bradford County Property Appraiser]
Bradford County Property Appraiser

Yet that’s what the Bradford County, FL, Commission is considering approving this Thursday evening for Chemours, expanding one of the same mines Chemours and Twin Pines Minerals LLC are under a Florida Consent Order for numerous violations.

We hear that this Chemours expansion application for its Trailridge Mine southeast of Starke includes items like a Master Mining Plan and some of what they intend to do with wastewater, which the Twin Pines Minerals application does not for a similar mine near the Okefenokee Swamp in Charlton County, GA, farther north up Trail Ridge, that ancient beach full of stuff miners want to exploit.

[Twin Pines site (north) to Chemours Trailridge Mine (south)]
Twin Pines site (north in center top) to Chemours Trailridge Mine (south).
See also proposed HPS II phosphate mine site left of center, and existing Nutrien (PCS) phosphate mine in Hamilton County, FL upper left.
Note Jacksonville on the right in the east and Gainesville bottom center.
The Santa Fe River starts near the subject property, and flows west (left) to the Suwannee River.

We don’t know, because the application is not on Bradford County’s website.

When: 6:30 PM, Thursday, October 17, 2019

Where: BRADFORD COUNTY COURTHOUSE, 945 North Temple Avenue, Starke, Florida 32091

Event: BEF facebook event
WWALS facebook event

Here is the agenda item:

  1. PUBLIC HEARING – Randy Andrews, Zoning Director.
    Chemours Company FC, LLC – Thomas O. Ingram of Sodi & Ingram, PLLC and Daniel LeJeune of Kleinfelder, as acting agents for The Chemours Company FC LLC., and Connie Henderson, Representative for The Chemours FC, LLC.
    • Consider approval of a Special Use application — SU 19-02, for a Special Permit for mining submitted by The Chemours Company FC, LLC on lands owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District.

SRWMD owns 2,213.60 acres from just south of Chemours down to a sort of triangle-shaped 107.49-acre bit north of the Keystone Heights Airport.

[Google map]
WWALS Google map with SRWMD property roughly sketched.

That Airport is also known as Keystone Airpark, 42J, 29.8447500,-82.0475278. The purple-shaded left part of this WWALS google map is the Santa Fe River Basin, and this Chemours mine expansion appears to be entirely within it.

If you want to speak, here are the rules:

  1. Public Comments:
    • Three (3) minutes per speaker;
    • Complete and turn in a public comment card to speak before the start of meeting; (COMMENT CARDS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED AFTER THE MEETING BEGINS)
    • State your name and address into the record before speaking;
    • Do not speak from the audience;
    • Address your questions to the Board, not county staff;
    • Refrain from demands for an immediate board response;
    • No boisterous behavior; and
    • No personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks.

WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper know about this Chemours mine expansion application due to a report by Jim Tatum of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR). OSFR got their information from Bradford Environmental Forum (BEF). Paul Still of BEF says BEF plans to put a copy of the application on the BEF website as soon as they can sort out the logistics of getting a multi-megabyte file uploaded on slow rural broadband links.

This aerial I took on October 5th looks south across the Chemours Maxville Mine (the second one counting south from the state line), with Kingsley Lake in the distance.

[Closer, 122702, 12:27:01, 30.1685423, -82.0663337]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, on Southwings flight 2019-10-05, pilot Allen Nodorft, Closer, 122702, 12:27:01, 30.1685423, -82.0663337

Those six settling ponds are on the divide between the St. Johns River Basin on the left and the Santa Fe River Basin on the right. So the right-hand side of the picture is in the Santa Fe River Basin. The SRWMD mine of the Bradford County application is in the haze near the horizon.

Do we want more of the Santa Fe River Basin to look like this?

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Public Update on Proposed Phosphate Mining in Bradford and Union 2019-09-28

If you can go, please do, this Saturday.

When: 1-5PM, Saturday, September 28, 2019

Where: 10665 SW 89th Ave, Hampton, FL 32044-4201, United States

What: “Where do we stand? How did we get here? What are the next steps?”

By Whom: Bradford Environmental Forum

Event: facebook

I’m already double-booked that day, but I recommend others attend.

Much background on the WWALS website.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

PCS Phosphate Mine dragline access permit application SAJ-1984-04652 2019-10-15

It may be useful to keep tabs on last year’s USACE expansion application of the PCS (now Nutrien) phosphate mine in Hamilton County, FL.

Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, SAJ-1984-04652 (MOD-JPF), Published Oct. 15, 2018, Expiration date: 11/14/2018

[Location Map]
Location Map
PDF

Here are the rest of the maps from that document. Continue reading

Charlton County Comprehensive Plan Update Workshop 2019-08-27

On the calendar for the Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC), Charlton County Comprehensive Plan Update Workshop:

When: Tue, August 27, 10:30am – 12:30pm

Where: 68 Kingsland Dr. Suite B Folkston, GA (map)

Description: First Workshop to discuss Goals, Issues, and Opportunities.

Event: facebook

[Cover]
Cover

Currently, the only mention of mining in the 2015 Joint Charlton County Comprehensive Plan Update for Charlton County and The Cities of Folkston and Homeland Adopted 4/23/2015, is on page 8 (emphasis added): Continue reading

Titanium mine near Okefenokee NWR 2019-07-12

Update 2019-07-18: The complete application is now on the WWALS website; you can comment now.

Friday, July 12, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a Public Notice for Application SAS-2018-00554 for a titanium mine southeast of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Thursday I attended a meeting at the Okefenokee NWR near Folkston about that, and I met with agents of the miners back in April. The application is about the little purple area on this map they showed us at the end of April:

[Context]
Context

But that’s not the whole story; see below. Today this mine proposal is on the agenda for the WWALS board meeting.

Here are some things the application doesn’t tell you: Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida signs Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida 2018-12-19

In one of its first actions at its first official board meeting, WATERKEEPERS(R) FLORIDA voted to sign the Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida, December 19, 2018.

This opposition throughout Florida to phosphate mines anywhere in the state is especially timely, with public hearings and a vote coming up in January soon in Bradford County on the HPS II phosphate mine application.

A dozen of its thirteen members had already signed for their individual organizations. According to its bylaws, all members of WATERKEEPERS Florida are now signed on with the organization. Besides, the thirteenth member, Continue reading

PBS airs part of Alan Toth’s Phosphate Mining Movie 2018-10-31

Some national news about the proposed phosphate mine in Union and Bradford Counties.

If the phosphate would not be processed in Union or Bradford Counties, as Jack Hazen says, the closest place with processing capability is the Nutrien (PCS) phosphate mine in Hamilton County, on the Suwannee River.

Judy Woodruff, 31 October 2018, PBS News Hour, Battle over phosphate mining roils small Florida town,

No-phosphate-mining, Union County

Laura Newberry:

Union County commissioners recently passed a one-year moratorium on mining permits, but Bradford County commissioners are still considering the mine.

Carol Mosley:

Continue reading

Low water in Suwannee River Basin with Hurricane Michael 2018-10-11

Thursday morning, the day after Hurricane Michael passed by to the west and north of the Suwannee River Basin, only Gopher River and the New River gauge near Lake Butler were in Action Stage.

Gulf to Atlantic, After Gauges

Does a place that nearly floods even when a hurricane is a hundred miles west of it seem like a good location for the HPS II phosphate mine, in Union and Bradford Counties, Florida ? Continue reading