Florida lawmakers apparently want the state’s landscape to resemble something from the Fallout video games. WFTV Orlando reports a bill recently passed in the state’s legislature that would allow for radioactive material to be used in road construction.
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Groups ranging from environmental to conservative are calling on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to veto the bill. If signed into law, it would allow for phosphogypsum — a byproduct of fertilizer production — to be used in the construction of roads statewide. The EPA prohibits the use of phosphogypsum due to the hazards it poses to the public, road workers, and the environment.
Use of the radioactive material wouldn’t start immediately if DeSantis signs the bill into law. The bill would direct Florida’s Department of Transportation to study how feasible it would be to use the material in roads in the state. A rather quick end date for the study has been set for spring 2024.
There are plenty of opponents of the bill. Some argue that it’s a way to let the fertilizer industry “off the hook”: They wouldn’t have to pack and safely store the phosphogypsum since they could just give it to the state to use (Florida is already home to over 1 billion tons of the stuff stored in huge piles called gypstacks). Others, like attorney Rachael Curran with People for Protecting Peace River essentially said no governor in their right mind would ever consider something like this.
No environmentally conscious or ‘green’ governor worth his salt would ever sign a bill into law approving roadbuilding with radioactive materials. Even the fast-tracked ‘study’ contemplated by this industry-sponsored bill would create harm because that study involves a full-scale road project that would have very real, very detrimental impacts to the environment and health of Floridians, especially road-construction crews.
The use of phosphogypsum in roads was already attempted by the Trump Administration in 2020. But after an outcry that included everything from a petition to a lawsuit, the EPA recanted and withdrew the approval.