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Enforcement

Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC Settlement

(Washington, DC – October 1, 2015)  EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement with Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC that will ensure the proper treatment, storage, and disposal of an estimated 60 billion pounds of hazardous waste at six Mosaic facilities in Florida and two in Louisiana. The settlement resolves a series of alleged violations by Mosaic, one of the world’s largest fertilizer manufacturers, of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which provides universal guidelines for how hazardous waste must be stored, handled and disposed. The 60 billion pounds of hazardous waste addressed in this case is the largest amount ever covered by a federal or state RCRA settlement and will ensure that wastewater at Mosaic’s facilities is properly managed and does not pose a threat to groundwater resources. 

The 60 billion pounds of hazardous waste is based on the combined amount of corrosive wastewaters that will be treated at terminal closure of the facilities. Mosaic is one of the fertilizers industry’s best performers in its ability to reduce large volumes of corrosive wastewater in its phosphogypsum stack systems. In addition to recovering valuable phosphate and other compounds, Mosaic is able to reduce terminal closure costs while ensuring that its phosphogypsum stack systems are operated in an environmentally safe manner.       

Four Mosaic facilities (New Wales, Bartow, Riverview in Florida and Uncle Sam in Louisiana) will continue to produce phosphoric acid and actively utilize its phosphogypsum stack systems. Mosaic is in the closure process for the Green Bay Complex and South Pierce facility in Florida, and the Faustina facility in Louisiana. However, Faustina will continue to manufacture ammoniated fertilizer. Mosaic operated a small sulfuric acid plant at the Mulberry facility in Florida for a short time. The Mulberry sulfuric acid plant was closed around 2008 and there are no obligations regarding this site in this settlement. 

Mosaic has been making major improvements at all its facilities and completed several notable projects: installation of state-of-the-art elementary neutralization units to improve the management of sulfuric acid waste streams, upgrading air scrubbers at its granulation and phosphoric acid plants, and installing automated spill and leak detection systems. All of these projects have been closely monitored by Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and Louisiana Department of Environmental Protection, who provided valuable expertise at each step of the process.  

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Overview of Company

Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC, a subsidiary of The Mosaic Company in Plymouth, Minnesota is one of the largest producers of fertilizer and phosphate products in the world with 11.7 million tons of operational capacity. Mosaic’s Florida and Louisiana operations employ nearly 4,400 employees and 3,500 contractors.

The facilities covered by this settlement are located in Florida and Louisiana and include fertilizer manufacturing facilities at Bartow, Riverview, New Wales, Green Bay, South Pierce, and Mulberry in Florida and Uncle Sam and Faustina in Louisiana.

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Violations

Mosaic produces phosphorus-based fertilizer that is commonly applied to corn, wheat and other crops across the country. Sulfuric acid is used to extract phosphorus from mined rock, which produces large quantities of a solid material called phosphogypsum and wastewater that contains high levels of acid. EPA inspections revealed that Mosaic was mixing certain types of highly-corrosive substances from its fertilizer operations, which qualify as hazardous waste, with the phosphogypsum and wastewater from mineral processing, which is a violation of federal and state hazardous waste laws.

EPA inspected Mosaic’s phosphate production facilities in Florida and Louisiana and alleged the following violations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA):

  • Failure to make hazardous waste determinations for scrubber effluents, fluorosilicic acid-production wastes, product spills and leaks, and wastes from cleaning pipes and tanks (40 C.F.R. § 262.11);
  • Treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes without a permit or interim status (42 U.S.C. § 6925(a) and 40 C.F.R. Part 264, Subparts A-G, K, and CC);
  • Failure to perform land disposal determinations and to meet land disposal restrictions for hazardous wastes (40 C.F.R. Part 268);
  • Failure to provide adequate financial assurance for closure, long-term care, and third-party liability (40 C.F.R. Part 264 Subpart H); and
  • Failure to comply with recordkeeping requirements (40 C.F.R. § 262.40).

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Injunctive Relief

  • Mosaic will prevent the release of hazardous, or highly-corrosive, wastewaters from fertilizer production to the phosphogypsum stack system through an innovative reconfiguration of current operations. The development of these of industry-leading technologies will better optimize natural resource efficiency and decrease the amount of raw materials required to produce fertilizer.
  • Mosaic will significantly reduce the amount of ammonia going to the phosphogypsum stack system by reconfiguring secondary scrubbers to cease circulation of ammonia-laden corrosive wastewater back to the phosphogypsum stack system.
  • Mosaic will implement a best management practices plan to address potential leaks and spills of phosphoric acid from phosphoric acid and granulation operations.
  • Mosaic will continue to install advanced engineering controls that will mitigate future impacts from its phosphogypsum stack systems.
  • Mosaic has agreed to comprehensive financial assurance provisions, including a $630 million dedicated trust fund, as well as a $50 million letter of credit and a corporate guarantee by its parent company, The Mosaic Company, to ensure funds are available for its estimated cost of $1.8 billion for closure and long-term care of its phosphogypsum stack systems in Florida and Louisiana. Mosaic has additionally agreed to provide a corporate guarantee from its parent company for $8 million in annual coverage for accidental occurances that cause property damage or bodily injury to third parties.
  • Mosaic has agreed to implement an estimated $1.2 million environmental project in Florida to mitigate and prevent certain potential environmental impacts associated with an orphaned industrial property located in Mulberry, Florida.
  • Mosaic has agreed to fund $1 million in environmental studies in Louisiana, including studies regarding Louisiana statewide water quality criteria/standards for minerals and the development of Louisiana producer-specific watershed nutrient management plans to be utilized by beef cattle, dairy, and poultry producers.

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Pollutant Impacts in tons per year (TYP)

  • 22.3 million TPY of hazardous waste reductions from scrubber modifications
  • 6,510 TPY net reduction of ammonia to the phosphogypsum stack system
  • 700,000 TPY of sulfuric acid-containing hazardous cleaning wastes. Mosaic will install and operate new technology to recirculate and recover wastes generated from cleaning pipes and tanks in the phosphoric acid and ammoniated fertilizer processes.
  • 27,000 TPY net reduction of sulfate to the phosphogypsum stack system as result of recycling sulfuric acid-containing hazardous cleaning wastes. 
  • 200,000 TPY of additional fertilizer that can be manufactured from the same phosphate rock, reducing the burden on natural resources
  • 95,000 TPY of phosphorus that will be recovered as product. 

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Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

  • Reduced risk of release of billions of gallons of hazardous wastewaters
  • Reduce the potential for groundwater impacts and surface water impacts and can contaminate drinking water and cause fish kills.
  • In a national enforcement effort, EPA has focused on compliance in the phosphoric acid industry because of the high risk of releases of acidic wastewaters at these facilities. Examples of effects include:
    • A 2007 release at the Agrifos phosphoric acid facility in Houston caused 50 million gallons of hazardous wastewaters to be released into the Houston Ship Channel.
    • A 2009 sinkhole at the PCS White Springs phosphoric acid facility in north Florida released over 90 million gallons of hazardous wastewaters into the Floridian aquifer, the drinking water source for Florida and south Georgia.

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Civil Penalty

Mosaic will also pay a $5 million civil penalty to the United States and $1.55 million to the State of Louisiana and $1.45 million to the State of Florida, who joined EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice as plaintiffs in this case and who will assist EPA in implementing the terms of the settlement. 

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State Partners

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality have provided exceptional expertise in developing injunctive relief all aspects of case settlement.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and the Eastern District of Louisiana, is subject to a 45-day comment period in Louisiana, a 30-day public comment period in Florida and final court approval Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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Contact

Van Housman
Attorney-Advisor
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (MC2249A)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460
(202) 564-0143
housman.van@epa.gov

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