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Environment
Phosphate processing plants in the greater Tampa Bay region have caused some of Florida's worst environmental disasters. Accidents like the spill at the former Piney Point plant fill the history books in Florida.

Months after the major Piney Point spill, the phosphate industry's impact stills looms large

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Daylina Miller
/
WUSF Public Media
Brooks Armstrong reads a map of phosphate lands in Central Florida. He is one of the residents who opposes the proposed Mosaic mine in DeSoto County. Host Steve Newborn talked with him for a story last month.

The spill from the former phosphate plant in Manatee County earlier this year was a cautionary event. But the country's largest producer of phosphate currently has plans for a new mine in southern Florida.

This week on Florida Matters, we look at the continuing impact of Florida's phosphate industry.

The greater Tampa Bay region is where most of the nation's phosphate has been mined. And this past year, WUSF News has done extensive reporting on the spill of millions of gallons of polluted water from a former phosphate plant in Manatee County.

Host and reporter Steve Newborn has also been covering efforts to open a new mine in rural DeSoto County. It's on land already owned by the Mosaic Company — a Fortune 500 corporation based in Tampa and the country's largest phosphate producer.

RELATED: History Of Phosphate Mining In Florida Fraught With Peril

In this episode, Newborn speaks with Jaclyn Lopez, the Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity and a major critic of phosphate mining.

They discuss the possible impact of a new mine after the Piney Point spill earlier this year as well as the phosphate industry’s past challenges.

That includes the ever-present gypstacks — the large piles where the toxic, radioactive waste from phosphate mining is stored indefinitely. There are currently 25 of these waste stacks across Florida.

Florida Matters reached out to a representative of the Mosaic Company to appear in this show but they declined. They instead provided a statement that Newborn read from in his conversation with Lopez.

You can listen to Steve’s conversations with Lopez by clicking on the “Listen” button. Or you can listen on the WUSF app under “Programs & Podcasts.”

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