Gov. Ron DeSantis hopes to turn his plunging poll numbers around with a new bill that would allow roads to contain radioactive material. Because what Floridian wouldn't want their streets embedded with "recycled" mining waste that potentially causes cancer?
The new ingredient set to grace the roads of the Sunshine State if DeSantis has his way is phosphogypsum — fertilizer production waste — which emits radon and also contains radioactive uranium and radium, according to the EPA.
"No environmentally conscious or 'green' governor worth his salt would ever sign a bill into law approving roadbuilding with radioactive materials," People for Protecting Peace River attorney Rachael Curran said, via CBS News.
And according to Elise Bennett, Florida's director and attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, the bill is a "reckless handout to the fertilizer industry."
Phosphate rock is mined to create fertilizer, but the leftover material, known as phosphogypsum, had decaying remains of those elements that eventually produce radon. That substance is known as a "potentially cancer-causing, radioactive gas," a spokesperson for the EPA previously told CBS News. And because of that risk, phosphogypsum is federally required to be stored in gypstack systems – not landfills – in an attempt to prevent it from coming in contact with people and the environment.
"The Clean Air Act regulations require that phosphogypsum be managed in engineered stacks to limit public exposure from emissions of radon and other radionuclides in the material," an EPA spokesperson previously told CBS News.
Before it can be used, the state's Department of Transportation will need to conduct a study to "evaluate the suitability" of its use, the bill says, and "may consider any prior or ongoing studies of phosphogypsum's road suitability in the fulfillment of this duty." That task must be completed by April 1, 2024. …
"Gov. DeSantis is paving the way to a toxic legacy generations of Floridians will have to grapple with," Bennett said. "This opens the door for dangerous radioactive waste to be dumped in roadways across the state, under the guise of a so-called feasibility study that won't address serious health and safety concerns."
Let's just hope, for the health and sake of the good people in Florida, that DeSantis doesn't take advantage of President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal anytime soon.