Below is a transcript of Carol Mosely of the Bradford Environmental Forum speaking with Doug Clifford in the WGOT studios on Sept. 23 to discuss the planned phosphate mine in Bradford County.
Doug: Thank you for tuning in to WGOT LP Gainesville. Well, coming up this Saturday, September 28, we have a phosphate mine update and that is going on at the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice. It’s the Bradford Environmental Forum’s. Carol Mosley is a board member and a social ecologist, and she is in the studio with me. Thanks for coming in, Carol.
Carol: Thanks for having me Doug.
Doug: Okay. You said the fight began in 2016 when four local families made clear they intended to mine nearly 10,000 acres in Union and Bradford counties.
Carol: 2016, these families held a big spin job for the public saying that this is gonna be a “green mine” and that they’re gonna live out there in the middle of it while the mining is going on. And these four families, Hazen, Prichett, Shadd, and Howard (collectively HPS) are planning to mine the areas straddling the New River which feeds into the Santa Fe River, making it much broader than just a two-county issue.
Doug: I know Alachua County Commissioner Hutch Hutchinson is concerned about the mine project and there’s a financial commitment to fighting it, and I know he will be speaking this Saturday.
Carol: Yes he will because Alachua County is very concerned about the effects that this may have on the Santa Fe River. As we said they want to mine straddling the New River, which runs into the Santa Fe, and those rivers are our borders. They are the lines that delineate us and we share those borders, and we share what happens in those rivers. (W)e do not believe that they have proved, as our land development regulations require, that they can mine and restore the wetlands to their previous condition.
Doug: Now there was supposed to be a report ready a year ago and you’re still waiting, is that right?
Carol: That is correct. There was supposed to be a report coming out in September of last year, and when that report didn’t come out I started doing documents requests, and then I did documents requests not only from Bradford County, who apparently wasn’t being well informed by Onsite Environmental Consultants (OEC), their consulting company that Bradford hired to help them make a decision about this. And so Onsite failed to turn over this report, because the hydrologist’s version of it was not very favorable and was very skeptical of this process—this experimental process–(which uses less water and ships the raw material) actually working as stated. And so we got these documents because of the documents request and we put out this negative report. Now they have submitted brand new documents again, what seems to be mostly fluff, not substantial evidence, and that’s gonna be our job to come up with the substantial evidence that proves that they have not proven that they can mine without damaging our rivers.
Doug: Now you’re concerned (with) the overly cozy relationship between Bradford County’s consultants and the mine representative; let me hear you talk about that a little bit.
Carol: Yeah, it’s really gone way beyond the scope of anything they were hired to do. The Bradford County Commission hired them to help them make a decision, to look at this [mining plan], and the decision that the Bradford County commission has to make is, is this plan in keeping with the land development regulations? And OEC Consulting should have only come up with whether that plan submitted (number ONE plan not number FOUR plan that we’re on now) was in keeping with the land development regulations or not. But instead, we have evidence from our documents requests and the emails that have gone on, that OEC is actually helping HPS to revise their plans themselves.
Doug: Well isn’t that desirable? To work with the County consultants to make everything kosher, for lack of a better word?
Carol: Well, it’s not the job of Bradford County to help the mining company develop a better mining plan. It is the responsibility of the County Commissioners to protect the citizens of the County and to make sure that whatever plans are submitted for mining are in keeping with our Land Development Regulations. They hired this consultant to help them decide whether what was submitted was in keeping or not. And yet, this company, because what they normally do is help people get permits, has taken it upon themselves to be working with the mining company. They’re not hired by [HPS], although the mining company has theoretically agreed to pay the entire cost of the consultants.
Doug:What can people do in Gainesville to support your efforts?
Carol: They can certainly keep apprised of what’s going on. We’ve been giving regular updates to the Gainesville Iguana, and back issues are on line at www, gainesvilleiguana.org. Look up issues from June 2016, Oct. 2017, March 2018, July 2018, Nov. 2018, and June 2019.
For more info contact: Bradford Environmental Forum, www.bradfordenvforum.org, 904-368-0291