by Carol Mosley
After a seven-year struggle to put a phosphate mining plan to rest, Bradford County is trying to update (hopefully upgrade) the Comprehensive Plan on mining. They’ve been trying to get this done since 2019, but were continually stymied by mining issues. This time it is Chemours FC that is throwing monkey wrenches in the gears.
Chemours mines along the trail ridge between Bradford and Clay counties. The discharge eventually flows into the Santa Fe River. They mainly produce titanium dioxide from the minerals obtained, which is used to make things white.
Chemours, an international entity that manufactures a multitude of chemicals, including PFAS, “forever chemicals,” was spun off from Dupont to take on the liability. They are strapped with hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits and settlements over contamination of rivers and water supplies.
Though PFAS chemicals are not produced here, the TT (titanium dioxide) division was recently absorbed into the FC (fluorocarbon) division with the lawsuits and settlements.
Now, they have garnered a seat at the table in deciding the regulations to include in Bradford County’s Comp Plan.
Two workshops were held that included Chemours, the NCF Regional Planning Council and a couple of active community members, including me. We couldn’t get beyond the “no mining in wetlands and surface waters” and some of the proposed buffer zones. Chemours says they can’t make money if they can’t mine the wetlands. And by the way, according to the clerk’s office, we’re not making tax income from mining.
Even though the workshops have been stalled, Chemours has been busy. Our county manager and county commission chair were taken on a tour of the facility and a “restored” wetland. We’ve asked for the same tour, but Chemours has not responded.
Meanwhile, the Bradford County Commission has decided to rethink their contract with the Regional Planning Council. The county manager is out looking for private consultants to consider.
The Planning Council is a regional non-profit entity not beholden to making profit for a company. A private entity could run into conflicts of interest.
At the risk of showing my age, in my head I keep hearing Oliver Hardy tell Stan Laurel, “This is another nice mess you’ve gotten us into, Stanley.”
Let’s see how the Bradford Commission untwists themselves from this knot.
An earlier version of this article was written for the Sierra Club. Carol Mosley is a member of the Suwannee-St. Johns group and is a recipient of the 2022 Panther Award. She is a co-founder of Bradford Environmental Forum and Bridges Across Borders.