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DeSoto County commissioners poised to ban gypstacks

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 1:51 PM EDT
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ARCADIA, Fla. (Sun Newspapers) - There are no phosphogypsum stacks in DeSoto County, and if commissioners have their way, there never will be.

According to our coverage partners at the DeSoto Sun, the final public hearing that would ban the storage piles, often called gypstacks, is set for this week.

Gypstacks are huge manmade hills of radioactive industrial waste consisting of phosphogypsum, produced in phosphate mining operations.

A gypstack failed in Manatee County earlier this year, sending millions of gallons of untreated wastewater into Tampa Bay.

The meeting is planned for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the DeSoto County Administration Building, 201 E. Oak St., in Arcadia.

DeSoto Commissioners unanimously approved the first of the two readings Sept. 29 regarding the new ordinance that would prohibit phosphogypsum stacks within the county.

“We do not want this in our county and it won’t be here in our county,” Commissioner Elton Langford said at the Sept. 29 meeting. “We’re not going to allow gypsum stacks, period.”

If commissioners approve the final reading, a certified copy of the ordinance will be filed with the Department of State by the DeSoto County Commissioners clerk within 10 days, and it will take effect upon filing with the Department of State. DeSoto Public Information Officer Sara Walker told The Daily Sun that there are currently no pending requests for a gypstack in DeSoto County.

Despite that, area residents have been concerned that fertilizer company Mosaic — a Fortune 500 company looking to mine land in DeSoto for phosphate — could bring gypstacks to the county.

Mosaic representatives have continually stated that they have no intention to do so.

At the Sept. 29 meeting, Langford said the new ordinance is a preventative step.

“You have to get out ahead of a situation,” Langford said. “Ordinances don’t usually work after the fact. We just want to make sure that it doesn’t happen in the future.”

Mosaic owns around 23,000 acres of farmland in DeSoto County. The company wants 14,000 of those acres rezoned to allow mining.

Rally and march planned

Concerns about Mosaic’s future operations in DeSoto County have spread to neighboring areas, getting the attention of residents in Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties.

A community rally and march against phosphate mining operations has been planned by a group of residents in Charlotte County.

The march is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 30, on the south end of the northbound U.S. 41 bridge in Punta Gorda near Laishley Park, 120 Laishley Court.

The march is expected to begin at 9 a.m.

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