Battle over phosphate mining roils small Florida town

Article Reference: Battle over phosphate mining roils small Florida town

Phosphate mining is a major industry in Florida, but it’s also a major source of pollution, responsible for red tide, toxic algal blooms and killing wildlife. In the northern part of the state, residents of a small town are resisting a man who wants to mine phosphate near their homes. Can the local government balance individual rights and with community health concerns? Laura Newberry reports.

Judy Woodruff:

In the coming midterm election, environmental issues have played an unusually large role in the state of Florida, in part due to the explosion of two blooms of algae that have crippled part of the state’s tourism economy and killed hundreds of thousands of fish and wildlife.

There are many factors driving these blooms, but scientists believe that the mining of phosphorous is one of them. Mining this mineral is a huge business in Florida.

And special correspondent Laura Newberry and producer Alan Toth tell us, the fight over a new mine is sharply dividing one Florida town.

It’s the focus of this week’s on the Leading Edge of science and technology.

Laura Newberry:

When most people think of Florida, they probably imagine wetlands and beaches, but there’s a lot more going on there than most people realize.

Buried in Florida’s earth is a mineral so essential to our everyday lives that we’d go hungry without it. Phosphate is an essential nutrient for plant growth. It’s ubiquitous in fertilizer. And the only way to extract vast quantities of phosphate is through strip mining.

But to really understand the environmental cost of phosphate mining, you have to get up in the air.

Ed Golly and Andre Mele took me on a flight over the mines, so I could get a sense of the scale of phosphate production.

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