Judge Recommends Denial of Mine in Hardee County

PORT CHARLOTTE -

An administrative law judge says he will not recommend the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issue a permit for a mine in Ona, in Hardee County.

Charlotte County had challenged it, saying the Mosaic company's plans for restoring the land after mining is complete, weren't good enough.

Attorney Charles Fletcher - who represents Charlotte - says this is the second mine the county has fought.

FLETCHER: And the second time an administrative law judge has agreed that the reclamation just simply is not sufficient to do what's being promised. They need to recognize that this reclamation is not sufficient to restore the hydrology of the area, to restore the wetland vegetation.

The mine in the first case is being permitted after both sides agreed to more restoration measures. It's now up to the DEP to choose whether to follow the judge's order and deny the Ona permit.

Mosaic Fertilizer spokeswoman Kaley Miller says the company is at least happy the issue is moving forward.

MILLER: Based on a preliminary review of the recommended order on remand, it appears that with some very minor exceptions the judge has made findings of fact that are consistent with the positions we presented.

In 2004, a coalition of Southwest Florida counties and environmentalists challenged the state permits for Mosaic to expand phosphate mining into the Peace River basin. They claimed it would destroy the hydrology of the land that provides drinking water to three Southwest Florida counties.

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