JDCPhosphate Technology Protects Environment, Groundwater By Eliminating Gypsum Creation
Adoption of the Improved Hard Process Is Key to Safer, Sustainable Phosphate Industry
FORT MEADE, Fla. – October 12, 2016 – The sinkhole at a landfill storing radioactive waste that has alarmed residents and environmentalists has created renewed interest in a proven new technology that eliminates the creation of phosphogypsum.
JDCPhosphate is gaining attention from leading phosphate industry experts and regulatory officials for its Improved Hard Process (IHP) that removes the threat to the environment and produces higher-quality phosphoric acid for fertilizer at lower cost than current methods.
“JDC’s Improved Hard Process technology is safer for the public and more cost-effective and efficient for the industry,” said Theodore “Tip” Fowler, CEO of JDCPhosphate.
“Our technology can make phosphoric acid without any high-volume waste. The generation and landfilling of 30 million new tons a year of radioactive phosphogypsum, of concern for the environment and especially groundwater given Florida’s geology, could be avoided by utilizing IHP,” Fowler said.
The Improved Hard Process for processing phosphoric acid is one of the most significant developments in decades for the world’s $30-billion industry. JDCPhosphate, currently operating a demonstration facility at its 20-acre site in Fort Meade, is planning a new next generation plant to commercialize the Improved Hard Process, updating Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials on what Florida producers can do now to transition to the new technology.
“Industry and regulators need to aggressively implement alternatives to the wet acid process if the industry in Florida is to have a sustainable future,” said CEO Fowler. “JDC has developed an alternative that we believe industry and regulators should urgently support and adopt. If not now, when?”
Florida is among the top phosphate industry states in the nation. Florida’s geology contains large phosphate reserves and makes the state a vital source for obtaining phosphate rock for the production of phosphoric acid used for phosphate fertilizers that are essential for food production. However, Florida’s geology inherently results in a high frequency of sinkholes, making it one of the worst places for the disposal of the radioactive phosphogypsum that is a by-product.
“The current sinkhole emergency at the New Wales fertilizer facility is the most recent of many environmental calamities associated with phosphogypsum stacks in Florida and around the world that could have been avoided by using IHP,” said Mark Vignovic, Vice President of Safety, Health and Environment for JDCPhospate. “Phosphogypsum is the primary reason that the phosphate industry shut down in Texas, Mississippi and most of Europe.”
According to the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute (FIPR Institute) there are currently about 1 billion tons of phosphogypsum stacked in 24 stacks (landfills) in Florida and about 30 million new tons are generated each year (57 tons per minute). This is twice the 15 million tons of municipal solid waste that are landfilled every year for Florida’s 20 million residents.
JDC’s process would allow industry to avoid creating new gypsum stacks. The benefits of JDC’s patented technology include:
- Eliminating the creation of phosphogypsum
- Producing higher quality phosphoric acid
- Lowering production costs by as much as 40 percent
- Producing a safe aggregate for construction
- Adaptable to lower grade rock, thereby extending the phosphate reserve base and protecting industry jobs for decades
“We are excited to bring to Florida a transformative technology that offers a more sustainable process that is a win for industry and for the community,” Fowler said.
ABOUT JDC PHOSPHATE
JDC Phosphate, a private company based in Fort Meade, FL, has developed and proven a transformational technology — the Improved Hard Process (“IHP”) — for producing phosphoric acid. The clean-tech process is ready to move to commercialization, offering the potential to dramatically change the economics and sustainability of the $30 billion phosphoric acid industry. The company was founded in 2008 by the late Dr. Joseph Megy, a noted scientist, chemical engineer, metallurgist and inventor who developed, patented and commercialized several breakthrough technologies. For more information, go to www.JDCPhosphate.com.
More About Florida’s Geology, Karst Terrain and Sinkhole Formation
Most of Florida is prone to sinkhole formation because the geology is made up of thick carbonate deposits that are susceptible to dissolving by groundwater. Sinkholes are naturally occurring geological phenomena found throughout much of Florida in what geologists refer to as a karst terrain caused by the chemical weathering and dissolution of carbonate rocks. Over time, this process has created extensive underground voids and drainage systems in much of the carbonate rocks throughout Florida. Collapse of the surface into the underground cavities produces sinkholes. The potential for karst terrain underlies 98 percent of Florida (where thousands of sinkholes are found) versus only 5-10 percent for the rest of the world.
Impacts of Karst Geology
Florida’s karst terrain poses special problems, necessitating special precautions in the design of roads, buildings and especially waste disposal facilities. Florida’s growing population has resulted in construction of more roads and buildings, increased demands on groundwater and increased stresses on the environment that threaten Florida’s karst geology. Floridians use karst aquifers for drinking water, and therefore must be careful about waste disposal so as not to contaminate the very source of water. Besides the threat of groundwater depletion and contamination in areas of human activity on karst, there is also the very real threat of ground collapse. Water use, improper building and waste disposal practices can accelerate natural sinkhole development, endangering both people and structures. As Florida’s population continues to increase, so does the chance for sinkholes.
Karst Geology and the Landfilling of Phosphogypsum
Since scientists cannot predict precisely where and when a sinkhole might occur, an accurate long-term public health and environmental assessment for Florida from the stacking and landfilling of phosphogypsum is virtually impossible and will always be problematic. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several states consider karst terrain unstable, susceptible to natural or human-induced events or forces capable of impairing the integrity of landfill components responsible for preventing releases from a landfill.
Besides threats from karst terrain and sudden sinkhole formation, other potential threats include landfill liner system failure, which could allow for the pollution of underlying groundwater, the source of drinking water. The EPA has acknowledged that even the best landfill liner systems will ultimately fail as the bottom layer of the landfill deteriorates over time. For radioactive phosphogypsum stacks, the combination of karst terrain, sinkholes and limited life liner systems will always pose the threat of large quantity releases of phosphogypsum and acidic process water, presenting significant risk to Florida’s geology and safe water for its residents.