The Mosaic phosphate company may have to redo its plans for a 20,000 acre mine in Hardee County that feeds into the Peace River Watershed. An administrative law judge says he will not recommend the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issue a permit for a mine in Ona, in Hardee County. Charlotte County had challenged it saying the Mosaic company’s plans for restoring the land after mining is complete, weren’t good enough. Attorney Charles Fletcher – who represents Charlotte - says this is the second mine the County has fought.
“And the second time an administrative law judge has agreed that the reclamation just simply is not sufficient to do what’s being promised. They need to recognize that this reclamation is not sufficient to restore the hydrology of the area, to restore the wetland vegetation.”
The mine in the first case is being permitted after both sides agreed to more restoration measures. It’s now up to the DEP to choose whether to follow the judge’s order and deny the Ona permit. Mosaic Fertilizer spokeswoman Kaley Miller says the company is at least happy the issue is moving forward.
“Based on a preliminary review of the recommended order on remand it appears that with some very minor exceptions the judge has made findings of fact that are consistent with the positions we presented.”
In 2004, a coalition of Southwest Florida counties and environmentalists challenged the state permits for Mosaic to expand phosphate mining into the Peace River basin. They claimed it would destroy the hydrology of the land that provides drinking water to three Southwest Florida counties.
An administrative law judge has issued an order saying he will not recommend a permit be granted for a proposed phosphate mine near Ona in Hardee County. Charlotte County challenged the permit, saying the mining would affect the freshwater flow to the Peace River. The river is a drinking water source for Charlotte, Sarasota and DeSoto counties and the city of North Port. Attorney Charles Fletcher says Charlotte County is very happy with this ruling.
“It’s an affirmation of the county’s position all along that reclamation as proposed by the mining company is not sufficient. That the myth that reclamation basically creates natural lands is just not true.”
The judge said Mosaic Fertilizer’s plans to restore the land after it’s finished mining are not sufficient. But company spokeswoman Kaley Miller says they’re also happy.
“We’re certainly pleased to see the process moving forward again. Keep in mind that the actual issuance of the permit must come from the Florida department of Environmental protection. The administrative law judge was to make findings of fact on certain issues. So he offered no conclusions of law or other recommendations.”
The case now goes back to the state DEP. The secretary can ignore the order and grant the permit OR ask Mosaic to rewrite its restoration plan. If the permit IS granted, Charlotte County has said it will appeal.
Friday, 23 June 2006 01:00