Officials with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) are investigating reports of health complaints near a 100-year-old phosphate processing facility in Plant City. Residents living near Coronet Industries' plant, which processes phosphate for use in animal feed supplements, allege toxic emissions have caused an abnormally high incidence of cancer
and other disorders among the local population.
Because of the public complaints, the DEP, EPC and Florida's Department of Health agreed to test dozens of private wells in neighborhoods near the Coronet facility for elevated traces of arsenic
, fluoride, lead
and gross alpha radiation. All of the substances can be potentially harmful to people exposed to abnormal amounts. Health officials do not expect to see results of the water tests, which were ordered by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, until September 2003.
Coronet has been accused of illegal environmental polluting dating back to the 1960s and was recently ordered by the county's EPC to correct its air emissions standards by 2005. In June 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notified the Florida DEP in Tallahassee and Tampa of possible health risks posed by the Coronet plant. The letter informed the agencies that Coronet was among four facilities in an eight-state region that had potential to pose serious public health risks. According to a recent investigation, the letter was never forwarded to state and county health departments or to residents living in communities near the Coronet plant.
In July 2003, Hillsborough County EPC Executive Director Richard Garrity asked Sheriff Cal Henderson and State Attorney Mark Ober to begin an investigation into allegations of misconduct among Coronet Industries top management. According to statements from several former employees, Coronet managers ordered workers to illegally dump toxic waste and other harmful substances.In August 2003, the DEP issued an emergency directive, ordering Coronet to immediately improve its water management. The state is currently supplying bottled water to 20 homes near Coronet Industries because of contaminated water wells.
In September 2003, the EPC conducted soil tests in 22 locations around the Coronet facility. Levels of 11 inorganic compounds, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium and lead were found to be above what would naturally be seen in Florida but below what environmentalists consider a threat to public health.In October 2003, the DEP took action against Coronet after new water well tests revealed high levels of boron, lead and arsenic beyond the phosphate plant's property line. The DEP is requesting that Coronet immediately fix the contamination problems.
See your doctor if you live or work near the Coronet facility and you have experienced serious health problems. In addition, it may be important to contact an attorney
who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits
within which you must commence suit.
- Specific Contaminated Sites
- Birth Defects
- Heart Failure: Overview
- High Blood Pressure (hypertension): Overview
- Keratosis: Overview
- Kidney Failure
- Liver Problems
- Lung Cancer: Overview
- Melanosis: Overview
- Reproductive System: Overview