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Senator Wants To Boost Pollution Notification

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

After an uproar about two high-profile pollution incidents, a key Senate Republican filed a proposal Thursday aimed at better notifying the public when pollution occurs.

The bill (SB 532), filed by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, would require that people or businesses responsible for pollution incidents file notices within 24 hours with the state Department of Environmental Protection. The department, in turn, would be required to publish the notices online within 24 hours.

“The people of Florida deserve to know if our state's drinking water has been threatened by potentially dangerous pollutants,” said Galvano, who is slated to become Senate president after the 2018 elections. "Requiring the public to be notified quickly about potential contaminants will give them peace of mind that they won't unwittingly be drinking water that isn't safe."

The bill comes after high-profile pollution incidents involving a sinkhole at a phosphate plant in Polk County and sewage discharges into Tampa Bay. Following the incidents, the Department of Environmental Protection proposed new notification requirements. But an administrative law judge in December ruled that the department overstepped its legal authority with the proposals.