Mercury pollution and fertilizer production plants

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The Environmental Protection Agency requires 33 industrial facilities in Florida to report annually the amount of mercury compounds removed or released from their factories. Mosaic Fertilizer LLC owns and operates the three major mercury compound disposal or discharge facilities in Florida for 2020, the fourth facility is PCS Phosphate.

According to the most recent data available from the EPA Explorer Toxic Release Inventory, the total onsite and offsite disposal or other releases for Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC’s operations in Florida is 11,404 pounds of mercury compounds for 2020.

NEW WALES FACTORY (POLK COUNTY) 5,501 lbs.

BARTOW FACTORY (POLK COUNTY) 3,003 lbs.

RIVERVIEW PLANT (HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY) 2,900 lbs.

PCS WHITE PHOSPHATE SPRINGS (HAMILTON) 1,883lbs.

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency. TRI Explorer Dataset Internet Database. Accessed April 16, 2022.

Mercury is a toxic pollutant that has a significant impact on human health and the environment. Mercury can enter the food chain and eventually end up on the dinner table in the form of marine and freshwater fish and shellfish. Mercury is extremely toxic and there is no safe level of exposure for humans. Mercury can cause brain damage, especially in children under six.

Mercury pollution is a known killer of the endangered Florida panther. Great egrets, bald eagles and wood storks feeding primarily on fish in the Everglades have tested positive for toxic levels of mercury.

Mercury can enter the food chain and eventually end up on the dinner table in the form of marine and freshwater fish and shellfish. Mercury is extremely toxic and there is no safe level of exposure for humans. Mercury can cause brain damage, especially in children under six. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in 12 women in the United States has absorbed enough mercury to pose a threat to a developing fetus.

Human health risks associated with mercury become economic costs for people exposed to mercury. Mercury pollution threatens tourism as well as recreational and commercial fishing industries in the region.

Scientific evidence indicating that mercury is a toxic pollutant to be concerned about is abundant. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys and developing fetus. Very young children are more sensitive to mercury than adults.

Until phosphate mining, fertilizer processing and phosphogypsum waste disposal operations are completely overhauled, we will never fully realize the true impact on public health and the environment that the industry phosphate has on Florida.

Glenn Compton is the president of ManaSota 88, a non-profit organization that has fought for more than 30 years to protect the environment of Manatee and Sarasota counties.

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