Report details troubled waters in Florida

10/11/07 Seán Kinane
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The nonprofit group Environment Florida released a report today revealing that many polluters in Florida repeatedly violate federal clean water laws. The report is called Troubled Waters: An analysis of Clean Water Act compliance.

Environment Florida used a Freedom of Information Act request to get data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding all major facilities across the country that exceeded their Clean Water Act permits in 2005.

Two Tampa Bay area counties, Hillsborough and Polk, were among the top 20 counties in the number of major facilities that exceeded their Clean Water Act permits in 2005.

Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Environment Florida, said the state also ranked poorly.

“Well, in some cases, we rank number 10 in the country as a state as far as the number of facilities that exceeded their clean water act permits and to a degree 500 percent or more in some cases exceeding their Clean Water Act permits.

"Hillsborough County actually ranked 11th in the nation among all 3000 counties for the number of facilities that has exceeded their clean water act permit.”

The report cites four Clean Water Act violations in 2005 by the Tampa Bay desalination plant, three of them for pH.

Polk County also had its share of major facilities that exceeded Clean Water Act permits in 2005, leading to a rank of 16th worst of all the counties in the U.S.

The phosphate company IMC Agrico is one of the worst Polk polluters, according to Ferrulo, and is cited 21 times in the report.

IMC merged with Cargill to become what is now called Mosaic. David Townsend is Assistant Vice President of Public Affiars for Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC. He said that the data in the Environment Florida report were analyzed incorrectly.

According to the Environment Florida report, in 2005 there were 128 facilities in Florida that exceeded their Clean Water Act permits a total of more than 910 times. But the news could be even worse for Florida’s environment, Ferrulo said, because this report only examined large facilities.

Ferrulo said that there is new legislation pending in Congress that could counteract some of the enforcement cutbacks by the Bush administration.

Because enforcement is not happening to the degree it needs to, Ferrulo said it’s cheaper for business to continue to pollute than to stop polluting.

For more information:

Troubled Waters: An analysis of Clean Water Act compliance

Environment Florida

Mosaic

Clean Water Act

Environmental Protection Agency

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