Recycling radioactive waste is one thing, but this proposal by Florida lawmakers, in classic Florida style, is taking things too far.
As CBS News The Florida Senate has reportedly passed a bill that would allow new roads to be paved with mining waste that the Environmental Protection Agency says is known to be “radioactive.”
The radioactive byproduct, known as phosphogypsum, is a remnant of phosphate rock mining most commonly used to produce fertilizer. Phosphoric plaster is known to contain small amounts of uranium and radium, which eventually break down into radon, a “potentially carcinogenic radioactive gas,” an EPA spokesman said. CBS.
The timing couldn’t be worse for chaotic presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, who now faces the option of signing the bill into law, a literally radioactive decision that could haunt him as the presidential race heats up.
The new law seeks to reuse “recyclable materials” which, according to the bill, “contribute to the problems of shrinking space in landfills.”
Phosphogypsum, however, does not end up in landfills because, as the EPA spokesperson said CBS“Clean Air Act regulations require that phosphogypsum be handled in stacks designed to limit public exposure to emissions of radon and other radionuclides in the material.”
In fact, the EPA has banned the use of phosphogypsum for construction projects for decades, though the spokesperson said there are exclusions for restricted use in agricultural settings, indoor research, and other government-approved use cases if the agency determines that ” is at least as protective of human health as placement in a pile.”
Proponents of an earlier bill no longer justified the use of the material less than two years ago.
While it’s unclear what direction the EPA will take this time around if DeSantis signs the bill, experts have said it’s a horrible idea that could put the public at risk.
According to Ragan Whitlock, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity who spoke with CBSthe EPA “actually found numerous risks from the use of phosphogypsum in highway construction that would expose the public, particularly highway construction workers, to an unacceptably dangerous cancer risk.”
Then again, this is Florida after all, so we should probably live up to our expectations.
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