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Pollution Notification one step closer to reality

April 18th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

The Florida Senate has passed legislation carrying hefty fines for companies and governments that don’t timely report hazardous spills to the state. The legislation is a direct result of a giant sinkhole in Polk County and a sewage spill by the City of St. Petersburg.

The Mosaic sinkhole, which dumped more than 200 million gallons of radioactive sludge into the acquirer, was first noticed on August 27th. A day later, it was reported to the Department of Environmental Protection. But the Public, and even Jon Steverson, the DEP Secretary at the time, remained in the dark for weeks.

“I knew at the time and learned in late August there was a water loss incident. I was not aware of the sink hole until a much later point in time” Steverson told us on November 25, 2016.

That same day, the state started rule making authority to require a 24 hour notice, but the effort was cancelled by an administrative law judge.

Now, legislation that has cleared the State Senate. Sponsor Bill Galvano requires companies to report a spill within 24 hours.

“The onus then falls on the Department to notify all impacted interested parties within the next 24 hours” galvano told the Senate.

Afterwards he said “People have a right to wake up in the morning and go about their business and not have to worry they are somehow ingesting or being exposed to harmful contaminants.”

The bill requires DEP to create a sign up sheet on its website and allow people to sign up for statewide or geographic alerts.

“We certainly can send out a notice to property owners by internet, television, robo calls within 24 hours” says Galvano.

Companies, or even governments that don’t report, could face a ten thousand dollar a day fine.

The House bill has yet to be heard, making the legislation part of the end of session horse trading about to begin.

The House bill has yet to be heard, making the legislation part of the end of session horse trading about to begin.

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