Phosphogypsum is the radioactive waste from processing phosphate into phosphoric acid for fertilizer.
May 1, 2023
Governor Ron DeSantis
The Florida Capitol
400 S. Monroe St., Plaza Level
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Delivered via email to GovernorRon.Desantis@eog.myflorida.com
RE: Veto HB1191 “Use of Phosphogypsum”
Dear Governor DeSantis,
We, the 35 below-signed organizations and businesses, ask you to veto HB1191 (Use of Phosphogypsum). Phosphogypsum is the radioactive waste from processing phosphate into phosphoric acid for fertilizer. This bill would permit the use of phosphogypsum in Florida road construction.
While HB 1191 would require the Florida Department of Transportation to complete a study on the feasibility of phosphogypsum for road construction, the unreasonably short study period ending on April 1, 2024, cannot even begin to thoroughly review the health and safety consequences. To even begin the study would be a tremendous waste of Florida taxpayer dollars; EPA has already extensively studied the use of phosphogypsum in roads and concluded it is not safe.
Water quality and public health are especially threatened by HB1191. Phosphogypsum is radioactive, releasing cancer-causing radon gas. It can also contain other carcinogens and toxic, heavy metals like antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, fluoride, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, sulfur, thallium, and zinc. Phosphogypsum presents very high levels of gross alpha and beta radiation, 10 to 100 picocuries per gram (pCi/g), relative to levels in typical soils which are approximately 1 pCi/g.
• EPA has prohibited the use of phosphogypsum in roads since 1992 because it found numerous scenarios that would expose the public — particularly road construction workers — to an unacceptably dangerous cancer risk. EPA found that phosphogypsum “contains appreciable quantities of radium-226, uranium, and other uranium decay products.” Radium-226 has a 1,600-year half-life and will outlive many roads throughout the state.
• EPA found that the use of phosphogypsum in roads can cause adverse effects to nearby surface and groundwater resources through leaching of trace metals and radionuclides and that these toxins may also be resuspended into the air by wind and vehicle traffic.
Using radioactive phosphogypsum in roads is not a solution to the fertilizer industry’s toxic waste problem. Florida should not be a test subject in the industry’s reckless experiment.
To protect the health and safety of Florida residents, and to preserve water and air quality across the state, we respectfully ask that you VETO HB 1191.
E. Allen Stewart III P.E.
Chief Executive Officer
Center for Biological Diversity
Concerned Citizens of Bayshore Community, Inc.
Defenders of Wildlife
Senior Florida Representative
Environmental Coalition of Southwest Florida (ECOSWF)
Florida Water Conservation Trust
Florida Keys Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America
Florida Oceanographic Society
Executive Director and CEO
Florida Springs Council
Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Friends of the Everglades
Friends of Warm Mineral Springs, Inc.
Heal Our Harbor
Dr. Richard Whitman
Coastal Organizer, Florida-Alabama
IDEAS For Us
Chief Operating Officer
La Mesa Boricua of Florida
Lake Worth Waterkeeper
League of Women Voters of Florida
Peace Myakka Waterkeeper
People for Protecting Peace River
River Rise Resort, LLC
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
Environmental Policy Director
Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Association, Inc.
Sea Turtle Conservancy
Sierra Club Florida
START (Solutions To Avoid Red Tide)
Chief Executive Officer
Stone Crab Alliance
Karen Dwyer, Ph.D.
Waterkeeper & Executive Director
Florida Policy Manager
Tampa Bay Waterkeeper
The Institute for Regional Conservation
Chair of the Board
Tropical Audubon Society
Senior Conservation Director