MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Mosaic wants to start a new phosphate mine in Manatee County and it’s stirred up a lot of controversy.
On Thursday, the county commission chambers were packed as people urged the commission to deny the project.
At the meeting, the chamber was so packed, they needed an overflow room, while picketers stood outside.
“We would just like to see these spaces left alone, and not risk an accident,” said protester Luigi Costello.
Commissioners are deciding whether to approve Mosaic’s latest mining project. The company wants to start a phosphate mine on a 3,600-acre plot in Myakka City.
It’s adjacent to an already existing mine, but some locals like Rickey Mafera, want no part of it.
“We’re very worried. My property values are just gonna plummet,” said Mafera.
Some cite the recent incident where radioactive water leaked into the aquifer in Mulberry. Others are concerned about the potential environmental damage the mine could create.
“They screw up in Manatee County, it’s gonna affect everybody to the south of them,” said protester Mark Manning.
Mosaic officials said unlike the facility in Mulberry, this is a mining operation, so it’s not possible to have the same mishap in Myakka City. Mosaic also emphasizes that after the mining is complete, the wetlands will be completely restored and protected.
“I wouldn’t say that anyone’s concerns are invalid….I think the biggest misconception is that mining is permanent and that once its mined, it can never be anything else,” said Senior Ecologist Shannon Gonzalez.
Some nearby residents support Mosaic.
“I have no objections to the expansion and I’m not really sure what the fuss is about,” said local resident Linda Eneix.
“I look forward to the reclamation. I think that is just, that’s such a perk for us being residents nearby, that doesn’t exist for people who live next door to a shopping center,” Eneix added.
There were so many people wanting to comment in the meeting that commissioners won’t be able to vote on the project until Monday.
A spokesperson told 8 On Your Side since there’s so much work involved in these projects, it could be at least 10 years before the mining actually begins.
After that, the area would be mined for 30 years.