The Alachua County Commission is on a collision course with the company behind a proposed phosphate mine in Bradford and Union counties, prompting some people from Bradford County to take to the podium Tuesday night.
One woman drove 20 miles to speak her mind to Alachua County commissioners. Carol Mosley swears she has the most delicious water you’d ever want to taste.
“My water is sweet. I have sweet water sandwiched in between sulfur water and highly ironed water, so I am very very fortunate,” she said. She’s concerned about a change in those fortunes if a phosphate mine on the New River — bordering Bradford and Union and upriver from Alachua County — gets approval from a half-dozen county, state and federal agencies. Several Bradford and Union County families have joined to apply for the mining permits through a company known as HPS II.
Tuesday’s meeting of the Alachua County commissioners marked the next phase in its information-gathering process. A hired legal team of four environmental experts presented dozens of slides worth of data on the mine’s potential impacts in the three counties. Commissioners earlier this year voted to spend up to $621,000 on outside lawyers in the case; the county has so far spent about 10% of that.
Alachua County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson said he hopes the information they’ve compiled so far will sway the process. He and his colleagues do not yet have a direct means of stopping the mine, as the company is not required to apply for a permit in Alachua County.
“The next step,” Hutchinson said, “is to get the regulatory agencies to hopefully turn down the applicant for lack of good information.”
There were no representatives from the company, Bradford or Union counties in attendance on Tuesday night. HPS II’s website states, “We are excited about this project, including the jobs and opportunities it will bring to our local communities. We will continue to share information with you as the project continues.”
The commissioners plan to invite the Union and Bradford Commissions to a special meeting where they’ll talk about environmental concerns.
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