Gov. DeSantis signs measure to test use of controversial radioactive road material

gypstack ap
Conservation groups are warning against using the material, and the feds reversed course on its advisability after the Donald Trump administration left office.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that could pave the way for using phosphogypsum in construction of the state’s roads.

The bill (HB 1191), which Republican Rep. Lawrence McClure introduced, adds the radioactive waste byproduct of fertilizer production to the list of materials allowed to be used for road construction. The new law calls for the study of demonstration projects using the material in road construction materials “to determine its feasibility as a paving material.”

Conservation groups had urged DeSantis to veto the bill, saying that the material would damage water quality and put road construction crews at a higher risk for cancer.

Phosphogypsum is produced when phosphate rock is dissolved in sulfuric acid, which is done to make the phosphoric acid necessary to manufacture fertilizer.

For every ton of phosphorus produced, the process also turns out five tons of phosphogypsum. There are around 1 billion tons of phosphogypsum divided among 24 stacks in Florida, with 30 million new tons created annually.

For every ton of phosphoric acid produced, more than 5 tons of phosphogypsum waste is generated, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA approved using it for road construction under the Donald Trump administration, but President Joe Biden changed that policy.

“Upon further review, EPA has determined that the approval was premature and should be withdrawn because the request did not contain all of the required information,” the EPA announced in 2021. “With this action, phosphogypsum remains prohibited from use in road construction projects.”

Most Democrats in the House voted against the legislation as well as a handful in the Senate. Republican Sen. Jay Trumbull argued for using it, however, saying that it would address supply chain deficiencies. He also pointed out that Japan, Australia, Canada, Spain and Belgium all use this practice, with those nations reusing 35-40 million tons of phosphogypsum annually.


Wes Wolfe contributed to this report.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Real Thomas Kaspar

    June 29, 2023 at 6:39 pm

    What could possibly go wrong ?

    • Dont Say FLA

      June 29, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      For one, Rhonda’s proud fanboys could steal it and reduce it, yielding radioactive dirty bomb material made from piles of stuff accumulated by Rhonda’s DOT in road median construction material centers as if Rhonda wanted their fan boys to steal it and make dirty bombs or something.

  • Thomas Kaspar

    June 29, 2023 at 9:28 pm

    Pete Buttigieg ?

  • J F

    June 30, 2023 at 8:51 am

    In my research, there seems to be little consensus on how damaging phosphogypsum actually is. Rather than green lighting this substance for use in roads, there definitely needs to be more independent research on the safety of using it in roads. Biden’s EPA seems to be extremely cautionary. I’ve read their stance was justified by the levels of radioactivity an individual would be exposed to living near or on an old road constructed with this stuff, living there for 18 hours a day for 70 years would exceed the EPAs exposure limits to radioactivity. On the other side, pressure from agricultural and fertilizer interests is what got this bill in motion. More independent studies please. At the moment though, there is no evidence this will cause harm. Phosphate ore has more radioactivity than this byproduct anyway, although, we aren’t coming in contact with the ore on a regular basis. It is reassuring that other developed countries are using this stuff though.

    • Ocean Joe

      June 30, 2023 at 1:53 pm

      I doubt any research went into this plan other than how to profit from it. Research will take place AFTER a road is built with it, and nearby residents will be guinea pigs.

      When you elect people who always put profit first, this is what you get.

    • Another one

      June 30, 2023 at 2:47 pm

      “In my research”

      You don’t research lab coat you read Facebook.i see people like you in the graveyard that did their own research lol

  • Another one

    June 30, 2023 at 2:48 pm

    American intelligence at its best again

    Explains the lowering life expectancy lol

  • My Take

    June 30, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    You Are Driving Down A Nice New Road
    Your child is safe in her carseat in back.
    But up from the road base, through the asphalt, through the steel car body and the seat padding and carseat come gamma rays . . . smashing into her very DNA, shattering it.
    For it is a FLORIDA road . . . in the dark days of DeathSSantis.

    Maybe Cruella DeSSantis can market a line of lead-shielded carseats.
    “Make Sure At Least YOUR Baby Is Safe.”

    I contend that the above evaluation is at least as objecttive as what the question will receive from an industry study or DeSSantis agency “study.”

    • My Take

      June 30, 2023 at 4:01 pm

      Abandon Yucca Mountain.
      Use Spent Reactor Fuel Rods . . .
      as rebar in new bridge foundations.

      A DeathSSantis design!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704