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Kathleen Peters plans to file transparency legislation

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

State Rep. Kathleen Peters on Monday said she’ll sponsor legislation next session to require public notification “of contamination to our environment within 24 hours.”

“The public deserves notification when there are pollutants being introduced to our environment,” she said in a statement. “Our water is one of our most precious resources; it is life. I remain committed to holding institutions accountable for their actions, be they public or private.”

Peters’ announcement comes after the Mosaic sinkhole disaster in Polk County, in which a retention pond holding over 100 million gallons of contaminated water from fertilizer processing collapsed and drained into the underlying groundwater supply.

The sinkhole opened Aug. 27 but the public wasn’t told for another three weeks. Among the contaminants is phosphogypsum, which contains “minute traces of radioactive byproducts of uranium,” according to Florida State University.

Peters, a Treasure Island Republican, also called for a special meeting of Pinellas County’s legislative delegation after recent storm surges from Hermine, a Category 1 hurricane.

She had said she was concerned about “municipalities across Pinellas County (being) forced to dump partially treated sewage into local waterways.”

Gov. Rick Scott earlier Monday called on his Department of Environmental Protection to create an emergency rule that would require notification of severe environmental damages within 24 hours.

The rule, when completed, will require public notice of any potential effects on health or safety.

Scott said he would be at the Mosaic facility outside New Wales on Tuesday to get a briefing from company officials and view the sinkhole.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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