Day: September 15, 2006

NC Phosphate Mine to expand: wetlands in trouble | Mine plan would erase wetlands

The proposal by PCS Phosphate, if approved, would represent the single largest destruction of wetlands permitted in the state — 2,500 acres including the headwaters of seven creeks near the Pamlico River. The rich deposit of black phosphate rock, left by ancient oceans and buried 100 feet beneath the surface, has been extracted from the site by various companies for about 40 years. PCS has worked the mine since 1995 to get phosphate for fertilizer and for use in food additives. In food, it’s turned into phosphoric acid — a flavor enhancer in such products as Coca-Cola, jellies and vegetable oil.

Yes, this is right, phosphoric acid is a “flavor enhancer”. Well, the mine employs a 1000 people in the area, and is not necessarily an evil that must be stopped at all times, for that, see Hog Factories! But this disturbs me.

Hunter Turnage, 44, a Raleigh cable television salesman, has a house across the river from the PCS mine. He is one of several people who have written letters to the state complaining about the odor when the wind blows from the south.

“If you don’t want to smell it, you shut up the windows and turn on the air conditioner,” Turnage said.
“It’s something you just deal with. … I kept thinking one day they would run out of areas to mine. I think they’ll stay there forever –as long as they get continued rights to destroy the wetlands.”

It’s one thing to use up wetlands, knowing fully well that the law requires you to create wetlands elsewhere to compensate, this smell issue is more problematic, and hard to legislate. Which means that various Environmental Justice issues will also come into play.