Test Discharge Of Phosphate Mining Byproducts

Bartow, Florida, USA

Because phosphorous is a highly reactive nonmetal, it is never found as a free element and is generally extracted from phosphate rock which is usually found in estuarial areas. The largest USA reserves are found in Florida. After extraction, phosphate is washed with large amounts of water. The waste products (clay and sand) are consolidated and pumped out to containment impoundments where the liquids and solids are separated. The red barrels are floats to suspend the hose on top of the liquid. Fertilizer tends to be overapplied in agricultural situations, and thus runs down with the rains through wetlands, streams, and rivers to the sea. Since it tends to be the limiting factor in many ecocycles, the introduction of a large additional supply stimulates the bloom of the first and fastest growing of the extant organisms. In aquatic environments this results in algae blooms which absorb all of the available oxygen thus killing the marine fauna (fish).