In 2002, the Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit to Mosaic, formerly IMC Phosphates, to begin strip-mining a 2,200-acre site in Manatee County. The Altman Tract permit was the second permit to be challenged by local governments and the Water Supply Authority. The site was located at the headwaters of the Horse Creek, which provides 15 percent of the flow to the lower Peace River. Any threat to the Peace River basin is a threat to Charlotte Harbor and risks the economic vitality of the entire region.
The case was tried in the spring of 2003. By September, a hearing officer agreed that the permit was flawed and failed to ensure that the environment would be protected. He recommended that FDEP reject the permit. You can view his comments here.
FDEP agreed with the hearing officer and denied the strip mining application.
Florida DEP Secretary David Struhs called the plan to reclaim the land after mining “inadequate”. He said that the permit failed to provide accurate information, a clear reclamation plan, and necessary financial assurance that the site would be properly reclaimed after mining—all of which are required by law. Mosaic has appealed the decision and revised the permit.
In November 2005, DEP announced that it would grant a new permit to Mosaic to strip mine the Altman Tract. The new permit was an improvement but still had many flaws. Local governments and the Water Supply Authority filed a challenge to the permit–to ensure that proper standards were met.
Mosaic argued that the new permit would become part of their current Four Corners mine and would not be adding any new operations. Mosaic proposed meetings with the local governments to address concerns about any possible effects of phosphate mining on the Peace River Basin.
Following the negotiations, Charlotte voted to accept Mosaic's settlement offer without requiring the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to sign the agreement. The county is relying on a one-paragraph letter from FDEP Deputy Director Richard Cantrell, stating that Mosaic will make the changes requested by Charlotte. Those changes call for stronger protections for wetlands and assurances that mined land will be reclaimed.
Altman Tract Permit
|October 2002||Charlotte County and Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority challenges the permit requested by IMC Phosphates.|
|August 2003||A hearing officer recommends that DEP deny the permit because it fails to protect the environment.|
|September 2003||Florida DEP Secretary David Struhs also rejects the permit. IMC Phosphates files an appeal. You can view his comments here.|
|November 2005||DEP announces that it would grant a modified permit to Mosaic (formerly IMC Phosphates) to mine the Altman Tract.|
|February 2006||Charlotte County and others challenge the modified permit - not to defeat the permit but only to maintain the ground they made in Ona.|
|May 2006||Charlotte County withdraws their petition.|