- Plymouth, MN-based The Mosaic Co., one of the world's largest fertilizer makers, reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency to settle a hazardous waste lawsuit for nearly $2 billion to clean up pollution and upgrade facilities.
- The deal, which needs to be finalized in court, concerns the proper storage and disposal of 60 billion tons of hazardous waste. Mosaic stores phosphorus-based fertilizer in 500-foot piles at eight facilities in Florida and Louisiana, and its improper handling is a threat to the environment and human health, the Associated Press reported.
- The company will create a $630 million trust fund, which will be invested until it reaches $1.8 billion. The money will then be used to pay to close four facilities. Mosaic will also pay $170 million on environmental cleanup and other projects, and $3 million total to Louisiana and Florida.
Mosaic mines phosphate rock from pits in Florida. The EPA discovered that the company was mixing highly corrosive substances from its fertilizer operations with the solid waste and wastewater from mineral processing in violation of federal and state hazardous waste laws.
The Florida facilities covered in the agreement are in Bartow, Lithia, Mulberry and Riverview; the Louisiana facilities are in St. James and Uncle Sam.
"This settlement represents our most significant enforcement action in the mining and mineral processing arena, and will have a significant impact on bringing all mosaic facilities into compliance with the law," John C. Cruden, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, said to the Associated Press.
Hazardous waste is a tricky topic in the industry. By taking this action with the Department of Justice, the EPA is showing a clear focus on public and environmental safety.
In August, the EPA proposed two new hazardous waste rules to clarify standards for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and hazardous waste generators.