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Bone Valley Phosphate Mines
PHOSPHATE MINING OFFICIALS-POOR ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS

Over the past seventy years, Florida’s phosphate industry let many man-made severe environmental accidents occur one after another over the years, causing serious environmental impacts to pristine “one of a kind” ecological regions of Florida. The Florida taxpayers are also paying for the court costs, attorney fees, and the like while the court battles continue daily between federal and state environmental agencies versus Florida’s industry officials.

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Lithia Springs - Spring Opening

(Fig. 1) Lithia Springs- Spring Opening

PEACE RIVER VALLEY

The Peace River watershed lies in west central Florida about forty miles east of the Tampa Bay area. Florida’s Peace River was declared an “endangered river” by “American Rivers.org,” a non-profit organization committed to protecting and restoring North American rivers.

The central Florida region holds unique pristine watersheds, marshlands, bogs, and other freshwater naturally occurring filtering systems. Watersheds are areas of land with waterways that flow to a common destination. Most of the region's drinking water is pumped from aquifers that are “recharged” from the watersheds described above.
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Peace River Spring Fed Tributary(Fig. 3) Peace River Spring Fed Tributary

Florida Phosphate Mines Linked To Sinkholes

(Fig. 1)  Sinkholes in West Central Florida.

CENTRAL FLORIDA SINKHOLE FORMATION

A Sinkhole is an area of ground that has no natural external surface drainage--when it rains, all of the water stays inside the sinkhole and typically drains into the sub-surface aquifers.

Sinkholes can vary from a few feet to hundreds of acres and from less than (1) foot to more than (100) feet deep. Some are shaped like shallow bowls or saucers whereas others have vertical walls; some hold water and form natural ponds or lakes.

Typically, sinkholes form so slowly that little change is noticeable, but they can form suddenly when a collapse occurs. Such a collapse can have a dramatic effect if it occurs in an urban setting.


Sinkhole formation data correlate directly to overburden removal practices from aquifer destruction and complete removal, such as practiced by the phosphate industry.

Southwest Florida Water Management believes...

When natural water drainage pattern is changed dramatically or when new water diversion systems are used, sinkholes may soon develop. Some sinkholes form when the land surface is changed as described above, such as when industrial phosphate run-off and materials settlement storage ponds are created.

The substantial weight of the new material can trigger an underground collapse of supporting material, thus causing a sinkhole.

The overburden sediments that cover buried cavities in the aquifer systems are delicately balanced by ground-water fluid pressure (surface materials back pressure). The water below ground is actually helping to keep the surface soil in place.

Ground-water pumping for phosphate mines is enormous based on a seemingly unending water supply, in the form of Florida's aquifers. Draglines are used for moving millions of metric tons of surface materials known as Overburden. This results in a lowering of groundwater levels and underground structural failure.

Florida Sinkhole(Fig. 1) Central Florida Sinkhole

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Areas Prone to Collapse Sinkholes

The map below shows areas of the United States where certain rock types that are susceptible to dissolution in water occur. In these areas the formation of underground cavities can form and catastrophic sinkholes can happen. These rock types are evaporites (salt, gypsum, and anhydrite) and carbonates (limestone and dolomite). Evaporite rocks underlie about 35 to 40 percent of the United States, though in many areas they are buried at great depths.

Map of the United States showing areas where rock that are prone to dissolution and sinkholes are prevalent. Central Florida is shown on the map to have karst rock along with gypsum very close to the surface. These rock types are prone to sinkhole formation and being near the surface can be a deadly combination.

Map of US rock types

DISAPEARING WATERSHEDS

Central Florida's groundwater and aquifers are becoming extinct by watershed destruction via phosphate strip mining operations. Florida's natural watersheds, known to the Florida phosphate mining industry as phosphate overburden, are being destroyed for the beginnings of a phosphate strip mine. Where is the balance between Florida politics, industry, and the Public?

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Phosphate Rock
WHAT IS AN AQUIFER

An aquifer is contained in the sub-surface encased in a body of saturated rock which also contain caverns and watersheds.

In this case the rock is limestone based, through which water can easily be contained and also move as though it is in a sub-surface river.

Aquifers must be both permeable and porous and include such rock types as sandstone, conglomerate, fractured limestone and unconsolidated sand and gravel. This type of earthen material contains enough drinking water for millions of Florida's citizens year after year.

Central Florida is made of just such a rock landscape and truley does contain everyone's fresh water resources.

However, phosphate officials are "permitted" by the state of Florida to remove everything mentioned above "containing" everyone's freshwater resources in very large tracts of land, measured in square miles, to reach the valuable phosphate rock they seek.

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