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Phosphate Environmental Impact Statement Needed

Published By: ManaSota-88

Please Write to:

Colonel Alfred A. Pantano, Jr., District Commander U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District P. O. Box 4970 701 San Marco Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32207

A regional phosphate environmental impact statement needs to be done by the Army Corps of Engineers before consideration is given to any additional phosphate mine permits. The current review process focuses on the details of a proposed individual mine site without examining the combined impacts of past, present and future phosphate mining activities within the region.

Over 100,000 acres of phosphate mining has already occurred in the Peace River watershed, nearly 60,000 additional acres of mining is projected to occur.

The cumulative impacts on regional drinking water demands need to be assessed. We must know how the proposed South Fort Meade & Ona mining project will affect the water demands of the people of Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte Counties.

The South Fort Meade mine represents a piecemeal approach to permitting, this piecemeal approach does not adequately protect the environment or the public’s health. Water pollution from mining water run-off, air pollution, degradation of the water quality of surface and ground waters, and the long term destruction of natural habitats is possible if additional phosphate mining expansion is approved.

Even before mining begins, the water resource is changed when all vegetation is stripped from the mining area, natural flow patterns and storage capacities are demolished, as are natural recharge areas.

Mining destroys natural watersheds and the natural order of the soil's layers from top to bottom of the mined-out zone. Topsoil's are obliterated, breaking up the water-holding hard pan underlying the area. Mining so changes soil profiles and land contours as to permanently alter surface drainage patterns. Reclamation cannot restore these systems.

There will be a reduction in the overall area of wildlife habitat as phosphate strip mining progresses. A significant percentage (30% to 45%) of phosphate mine sites are utilized as clay settling areas (toxic slime ponds) with an active life of 10 to 15 years.

Toxic slime ponds have low infiltration, high surface runoff, and little base flow. There is clear and convincing evidence that phosphate mining has had a significant impact on the Peace River. Past phosphate mines have left behind a legacy of toxic slime ponds with soils that are less previous because of their clay content. Phosphate mining can, and has impacted the Peace River base flow. Ground water recharge and movement through a clay settling area is significantly less than in natural conditions. As early as 1993, it was known that water levels in clay settling areas respond more slowing to rainfall recharge.

As public awareness of the negative impact of the phosphate industry on the environment and our drinking waters supplies increases, the need to reduce strip mining in the Peace River basin will become evident.

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