Residents will be able to sign up for alerts from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to learn of any environmental pollution incidents under a new law approved by the Florida Legislature this week.
Gov. Rick Scott, who suggested the legislation, is expected to sign it.
The new law requires any one whose facility releases unpermitted pollution to notify FDEP officials, providing details on the incident, any potential threats it may pose and whether it affects areas outside the permit holder’s property boundary.
Anyone who fails to report a pollution release could face a fine of up to $10,000 a day.
The main concerns raised by regulated industries during the discussion on the legislation involved what thresholds would qualify for reporting and who would be responsible for altering the public.
The origin of the legislation dates to two incidents last year involving massive releases of poorly treated sewage in St. Petersburg that polluted coastal areas and the release of acidic process water into the aquifer via a sinkhole at gypsum stack pond at Mosaic’s New Wales plant south of Mulberry. The second incident has not caused any documented offsite impacts.
However, the fact that the incidents were not reported until well after the fact angered residents who were concerned about what health or environmental effects the incidents might have had.
To read the bill, go to http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/532/BillText/c1/HTML .