The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved for use in government road construction projects a substance that has been regulated due to radioactivity.
Phosphogypsum, a waste from the production of phosphate fertilizers, will be cleared for use in road construction by the government, the EPA said on Wednesday.
The material is currently stored in large “piles” located in 13 states, primarily in the Southeast. This is also where most phosphogypsum roads would be built, as the group that applied for the approval told the EPA that it would not be “profitable” to haul it more than 200 miles from the stacks, according to the agency.
EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOvernight Energy & Environment – American Clean Power – Supreme Court to Review Power Plant Case EPA to Review Stricter Air Quality Standards for Smog Overnight Energy & Environment – Brought to you by Climate Power – Emissions are heading towards pre-pandemic levels PLUS said in a statement that allowing the reuse of the material “reduces environmental waste and protects public health.”
“Approval of this request means that phosphogypsum (…) can now be used productively to rebuild our country’s infrastructure,” he said.
Environmentalists disagreed, saying using radioactive material in this way can pose health risks.
“You now have potential exposure to something that we, in all other scenarios, treat as hazardous radioactive waste,” said Jacki Lopez, director and senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity in Florida.
In 1992, the EPA banned the use of phosphogypsum in road construction, raising concerns about people potentially living in a house on land where phosphogypsum roads once existed.
The agency has now said approval came at the behest of the Fertilizer Institute, which advocates for the fertilizer industry.