In preparation for the 2005 hurricane season, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) published a notice of rule development to increase protection for Florida's natural resources and strengthen environmental management requirements for phosphogypsum stack systems. The proposed rule requires operators of "gyp" stack systems to better plan for emergencies and take actions to reduce on-site water levels, avoid wastewater spills, and provide the State with timely information.

The proposed rule amendments include ensuring that "gyp" stack systems can operate in a manner that avoids spills or discharges of wastewater; requiring on-site treatment systems, or other water consumption methods, are sufficient to avoid spills of process wastewater, during or following periods of chronic or catastrophic rainfall; strengthening the existing requirements for emergency storage ponds or containment areas; and increasing the reporting requirements of stack operators when on-site water levels in the stacks begin to reach high levels.

According to Mike Gwen of PCS Phosphate in White Springs, the "gyp" stacks and the area around them are continually maintained in preparation of emergency situations.

DEP has already implemented a requirement for hurricane preparedness and emergency contingency plans for each phosphate fertilizer plant and associated mine and reclamation areas. As a result, companies have improved maintenance of dikes, made provisions for back-up power, increased inventories of water treatment chemicals, and created and optimized use of emergency process water holding or diversion areas.

This Week's Circulars