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Scott Orders Faster Notice After Pollution

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Suzanne Young
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida Gov. Rick Scotton Monday ordered new public notification rules after a sewage spill in Pinellas County and a sinkhole south of Lakeland that sent toxins into the drinking-water supply.
Scott said he also will seek legislation next year to put the new water- and air-pollution notice requirements into law.

"It does not make sense that the public is not immediately notified when pollution incidents occur, and that is why I am directing (the Department of Environmental Protection) to immediately issue an emergency rule implementing strict requirements for public notification within 24 hours," Scott said in a prepared statement. "Today, I am demanding any business, county or city government responsible for a pollution incident to immediately tell the public. That is common sense, and our residents deserve that."

In addition to the 24-hour notification, Scott's order requires the responsible parties to notify the public within 48 hours of any potential health risks.

In his proposal to the Legislature, the governor wants to amend current law that now requires public announcements when pollution at a publicly or privately owned site is found to have moved off-site. Under the changes, Scott will ask for the public to be advised within 24 hours of a spill being detected and for new fines and penalties on violators.
It took three weeks for area residents to be notified that a sinkhole had opened within the Mosaic company's 1,600-acre New Wales phosphate processing plant. The Department of Environmental Protection had been advised within 24 hours.