Galvano To Lead Florida Senate’s Effort To Strengthen Pollution Laws
After the release of more than 200 million gallons of contaminated water at a Polk County phosphate plant, Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano said Friday he will lead the Senate's effort to strengthen a state law to make sure Floridians are promptly notified of major pollution threats.
Galvano, R-Bradenton, has experience with the issue. In 2005, as a member of the Florida House, Galvano helped pass a law requiring public notification of pollution incidents. The law replaced a system where notification was discretionary.
But after the opening of a massive sinkhole at the Mosaic phosphate plant near Mulberry that released an estimated 215 million gallons of acidic water into the groundwater, Galvano said he would work with Gov. Rick Scott to expand the 2005 notification law, which doesn't require public notification until groundwater pollution moves offsite from a polluter's property.
Galvano said he was working with Scott's office on legislation that could quickly pass during the 2017 legislative session to "better define" notification procedures involving public-safety threats from pollution incidents.
State Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-Treasure Island, said she would be handle the pollution-notification legislation in the House.
The legislation is likely to follow notification guidelines that the state Department of Environmental Protection, at the direction of Scott, released this week in an emergency rule. The guidelines require the department within 24 hours of a pollution incident to notify the public and local government officials, including mayors, county commissioners and administrators.