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Group files concerns to DEP on mine

Published By: Bradenton.com

MANATEE -- A local environmental protection organization has filed concerns with state agencies over a Manatee County phosphate mine.

Manasota-88 on Sunday faxed a six-page letter to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in response to Mosaic Co.’s request to extend its mining rights at Wingate Mine, located off State Road 64 East in Duette.

The Mosaic Co. on Feb. 1 filed a permit application with DEP seeking to add 765 acres to Wingate Mine for future mining activity when the current 3,028-acre tract it mines is depleted of phosphate rock.

“We’re very concerned that what’s being proposed is going to further degrade Johnson Creek,” said Glenn Compton, chair of Manasota-88.

Johnson Creek is just south of the mine and enters Wingate Creek.

In the letter, Manasota-88 says it wants DEP officials to consider concerns it has about how expanded mining will impact the quality of water, air and crops in the area.

Mosaic officials, however, say the mining activity the company is proposing for the future won’t threaten surrounding environments.

“We’ve been operating in the watershed for three decades and this permit application wouldn’t make changes to the water quantity or water quality from the outfall at the mine,” said Russell Schweiss, a spokesman for Mosaic.

Wingate Mine was permitted in 1975. Mosaic plans to start mining 597 acres of the 765-acre addition it is seeking.

Mosaic presented information about the future mining extension to the Myakka River Management Coordinating Council in January.

“Manasota-88 has representation on that council, but we did not receive any follow-up questions from them,” Schweiss said.

Compton said Manasota-88 wants DEP to review its questions regarding the impacts to downstream water quality, the amount of flow discharged from the facility and the possibility of increased radiation levels.

“There’s many unanswered questions, additional review is needed to ensure water quality standards are met,” Compton said.

Dee Ann Miller, a spokeswoman for DEP, said the comments from Manasota-88 will be used in the department’s evaluation of Mosaic’s proposed activity.

DEP will take the next 30 days to evaluate the application and determine if the application is complete for further consideration or whether additional information is needed from either party, Miller said.

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