The Mosaic Company, the world’s leading producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate and potash, is settling a huge legal action for almost $2 billion. The company has to pay the money to help clean up waste and pollution and upgrade its leaky facilities in Louisiana and Florida. The settlement concerns an agreement to properly store and dispose more than 60 billion pounds of hazardous waste. The company will pay $170 million on environmental cleanup and other projects, and $3 million to Louisiana and Florida, where Mosaic keeps its storage facilities.
The company produces phosphorus-based fertilizer, whose production causes severe water pollution and creates a lot of solid waste. The government says that the current system of storage is improper and the waste therefore poses a serious threat to human health and the environment. The fertilizer giant mines phosphate rock from pits in Florida and then processes it into fertilizer that is subsequently shipped throughout the world. US Environmental Protection Agency found out that Mosaic was mixing very corrosive substances from its fertilizer production with waste and wastewater from mineral procession, which is against federal law.
The US Department of Justice hopes that the lawsuit will change the way Mosaic does business and decrease the waste created by its fertilizer operations. John C. Cruden, the department’s assistant attorney general, commented that “this settlement represents our most significant enforcement action in the mining and mineral processing arena, and will have a significant impact on bringing all mosaic facilities into compliance with the law”. The department also believes that this case will set the standard for “continuing enforcement … in the entire phosphoric acid industry”.