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.