the takedown

Justice, EPA Settle with Fertilizer Producer over Hazardous Waste

One of the world’s largest fertilizer manufacturers, Mosaic Fertilizer LLC, has reached a settlement with the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure the proper treatment, storage, and disposal of an estimated 60 billion pounds hazardous materials at six Mosaic facilities in Florida and two in Louisiana. 

The settlement resolves a series of alleged violations by Mosaic of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which provides universal guidelines for how hazardous waste must be stored, handled and disposed.

The significant quantity of hazardous waste addressed in the case and settlement is the largest amount ever covered by a federal or state RCRA settlement.

Hazardous waste from fertilizer production at Mosaic’s eight facilities is stored in large piles, tanks, ditches and ponds. Waste piles can reach 500 feet high and cover over 600 acres – some of the largest manmade waste piles in the United States. The piles can contain several billion gallons of highly acidic wastewater, potentially threatening human health and causing environmental damage to groundwater and local waterways.

Under the terms of the settlement, Mosaic will establish a $630 million trust fund, which must be fully invested in until it reaches $1.8 billion, to cover the future closing of four Mosaic facilities including three in Florida and one in Louisiana. The funds would also be applied to treatment of hazardous wastewater and long-term care of the four facilities and two additional facilities already undergoing closure. The Mosaic Company, Mosaic Fertilizer’s parent company, must provide financial guarantees for the work, and contribute a $50 million letter of credit.

Mosaic will also spend $170 million on projects to reduce the environmental impact of its fertilizer manufacturing operation and waste management programs at its facilities. It will pay $2.2 million for two local environmental projects, $5 million in civil penalties to the United States and $1.55 million to the State of Louisiana and $1.45 million to the State of Florida.

“This settlement represents our most significant enforcement action in the mining and mineral processing arena, and will have a significant impact on bringing all Mosaic facilities into compliance with the law,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “Moreover, through this settlement, we establish critical financial assurance to cover the enormous closure and care costs at all these facilities.  This sets the standard for our continuing enforcement of RCRA in the entire phosphoric acid industry. And, it reflects our emphasis on working jointly with impacted states.”

“This case is a major victory for clean water, public health and communities across Florida and Louisiana,” said Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.  “Mining and mineral processing facilities generate more toxic and hazardous waste than any other industrial sector.  Reducing environmental impacts from large fertilizer manufacturers operations is a national priority for EPA, as part of our commitment to pursuing cases that have the biggest impact on protecting public health.”

Posted in The Takedown

Tags: EPA, Justice Department, DOJ

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