Governor DeSantis: Veto Radioactive Roads

Posted 5/2/23

Phosphogypsum is the radioactive waste from processing phosphate into phosphoric acid for fertilizer.

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already have an account? Log in to continue. Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor

Governor DeSantis: Veto Radioactive Roads


May 1, 2023
Governor Ron DeSantis
The Florida Capitol
400 S. Monroe St., Plaza Level
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Delivered via email to

RE: Veto HB1191 “Use of Phosphogypsum”

Dear Governor DeSantis,

We, the 35 below-signed organizations and businesses, ask you to veto HB1191 (Use of Phosphogypsum). Phosphogypsum is the radioactive waste from processing phosphate into phosphoric acid for fertilizer. This bill would permit the use of phosphogypsum in Florida road construction.

While HB 1191 would require the Florida Department of Transportation to complete a study on the feasibility of phosphogypsum for road construction, the unreasonably short study period ending on April 1, 2024, cannot even begin to thoroughly review the health and safety consequences. To even begin the study would be a tremendous waste of Florida taxpayer dollars; EPA has already extensively studied the use of phosphogypsum in roads and concluded it is not safe.

Water quality and public health are especially threatened by HB1191. Phosphogypsum is radioactive, releasing cancer-causing radon gas. It can also contain other carcinogens and toxic, heavy metals like antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, fluoride, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, sulfur, thallium, and zinc. Phosphogypsum presents very high levels of gross alpha and beta radiation, 10 to 100 picocuries per gram (pCi/g), relative to levels in typical soils which are approximately 1 pCi/g.

• EPA has prohibited the use of phosphogypsum in roads since 1992 because it found numerous scenarios that would expose the public — particularly road construction workers — to an unacceptably dangerous cancer risk. EPA found that phosphogypsum “contains appreciable quantities of radium-226, uranium, and other uranium decay products.” Radium-226 has a 1,600-year half-life and will outlive many roads throughout the state.

• EPA found that the use of phosphogypsum in roads can cause adverse effects to nearby surface and groundwater resources through leaching of trace metals and radionuclides and that these toxins may also be resuspended into the air by wind and vehicle traffic.

Using radioactive phosphogypsum in roads is not a solution to the fertilizer industry’s toxic waste problem. Florida should not be a test subject in the industry’s reckless experiment.

To protect the health and safety of Florida residents, and to preserve water and air quality across the state, we respectfully ask that you VETO HB 1191.


E. Allen Stewart III P.E.
Principal Manager

Atchafalaya Basinkeeper
Dean Wilson
Executive Director

Catalyst Miami
Zelalem Adefris
Chief Executive Officer

Center for Biological Diversity
Ragan Whitlock
Staff Attorney

Concerned Citizens of Bayshore Community, Inc.
Steven Brodkin
Vice President/Secretary

Defenders of Wildlife
Elizabeth Fleming
Senior Florida Representative

Environmental Coalition of Southwest Florida (ECOSWF)
Becky Ayech

Florida Water Conservation Trust
Terry Brant
Legislative Affairs

Florida Keys Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America

Michael F. Chenoweth

Florida Oceanographic Society
Mark Perry
Executive Director and CEO

Florida Springs Council
Ryan Smart
Executive Director

Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Josh Weller

Friends of the Everglades
Eve Samples
Executive Director

Friends of Warm Mineral Springs, Inc.
Juliette Jones

Heal Our Harbor
Dr. Richard Whitman

Healthy Gulf
Christian Wagley
Coastal Organizer, Florida-Alabama

Caroline Chomanics
Chief Operating Officer

La Mesa Boricua of Florida
Maria Revelles

Lake Worth Waterkeeper
Reinaldo Diaz

League of Women Voters of Florida
Cecile Scoon

ManaSota-88, Inc.
Glenn Compton

Peace Myakka Waterkeeper
Andre Mele

People for Protecting Peace River
Brooks Armstrong

River Rise Resort, LLC
Jane Blais
Managing Owner

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
Matt DePaolis
Environmental Policy Director

Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Association, Inc.
Jill McGuire

Sea Turtle Conservancy
Stacey Gallagher
Policy Coordinator

Sierra Club Florida
Emily Gorman
Chapter Director

START (Solutions To Avoid Red Tide)
Sandy Gilbert
Chief Executive Officer

Stone Crab Alliance
Karen Dwyer, Ph.D.

Suncoast Waterkeeper
Abbey Tyrna
Waterkeeper & Executive Director

Surfrider Foundation
Emma Haydocy
Florida Policy Manager

Tampa Bay Waterkeeper
Justin Tramble
Executive Director

The Institute for Regional Conservation
George Gann
Chair of the Board

Tropical Audubon Society
Lauren Jonaitis
Senior Conservation Director

governor desantis, radioactive waste, phosphate, phosphoric acid, fertilizer, road construction, phosphogypsum