On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill that would allow for roads across the state to be made with radioactive mining waste. These materials have been proven to be cancer-causing.

The measure cites phosphogypsum as a substance that officials say can be used for constructing roads. It contains the radioactive elements uranium, thorium and radium and poses a cancer risk from its radon emissions.

Phosphogypsum comes from a phosphate rock that is mined to create fertilizer. It is federally required to be stored in gypstack systems but has now been added to the list of “recyclable materials” used to pave the state, which also includes ground rubber from car tires and construction steel.

Before it can officially be used, Florida’s Department of Transportation will need to “evaluate the suitability” of the material, which it must do by April 1, 2024.

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DeSantis’ latest bill only adds to tensions within the state about phosphate mining, which could be seen in the recent Piney Point controversy. The former phosphate mining facility in Florida’s Manatee County had a dangerous breach in 2021 that resulted in 215 million gallons of water with toxic levels of nutrients contaminating Tampa Bay within 10 days.

This incident was proven to be a contributor to the red tide event and fish kill in the area in the following months, and led to a lawsuit that mandated Florida lawmakers to invest $3 million to clean up the site.

Many Floridians are outraged by DeSantis’ decision to pack the state’s roads with phosphogypsum.

“No environmentally conscious or ‘green’ governor worth his salt would ever sign a bill into law approving roadbuilding with radioactive materials,” wrote Rachel Curran, an attorney with People for Protecting Peace River, in a statement.

DeSantis has yet to publicly comment on the new bill.

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