EPA: Time’s Up to Take Action on Dangerous Fertilizer Waste

Kristen Schlemmer
February 13, 2024

Alongside a broad coalition of conservation, public health, and environmental justice organizations, Bayou City Waterkeeper has notified the Environmental Protection Agency today of our intent to sue. The notice comes three years after the groups petitioned the agency to strengthen protections for people’s health and the environment. With our notice of intent to sue, we ask the EPA to take stronger oversight and regulation of toxic and radioactive waste from phosphate mining and fertilizer production. Weak, primarily state oversight of these wastes has produced environmental disasters across the country. The 2021 Piney Point discharge into Tampa Bay fueled a deadly red tide that killed more than 1,600 tons of marine life, including tens of thousands of fish. 

“Major spills of this highly acidic waste happened in Houston in 1999 and 2007, shutting down the Houston Ship Channel,” said Kristen Schlemmer, legal director of Bayou City Waterkeeper. “Each spill was a missed opportunity for the EPA to act and avoid another disaster, like what we’ve watched unfold with Piney Point in Florida. With our lawsuit, we’re telling the EPA that we’re done with waiting and need regulation that reflects the serious impacts phosphogypsum has had on communities and ecosystems in Houston and across the United States.”

Read our notice of intent to sue and press release.

Learn more about phosphogypsum and efforts to protect public health and the environment from its harms. And read more about this waste in the greater Houston region in the Alps of Pasadena, published by CITE Magazine in 2014.

Bayou City Waterkeeper protects the waters and people across the greater Houston region through bold legal action, community science, and creative, grassroots policy to further justice, health, and safety for our region. Bayou City Waterkeeper and its partners are represented by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Jacobs Public Interest Law Clinic for Democracy and the Environment at Stetson University College of Law.