Cancer Alley: Mosaic profile


Mosaic, a mining and fertilizer company headquartered in Tampa, Florida, was created by a 2004 merger between IMC Global, and Cargill’s crop nutrition division. Historically IMC Global was the largest producer of phosphate in the U.S. that it mines in the Peace river basin of southwestern Florida leaving behind a highly acidic wastewater and phosphogypsum, a low level radioactive solid waste that it dumps in mountainous piles called ‘gypstacks' that can reach 500 feet tall (152 meters) or more.

Mosaic Phosphorus Operations in Convent, Louisiana, in 'Cancer Alley' - Photographer Julie Dermansky 2
Mosaic, Convent, Louisiana © Julie Dermansky

The phosphate rock is shipped to Louisiana where it is turned into fertilizer at the Faustina and Uncle Sam fertilizer plants in St. James Parish, which lies in an industrial zone that activists have named Cancer Alley. The fertilizer plants yield yet more phosphogypsum waste that is also piled into gypstacks. In 2004, Mosaic’s Riverview gypstack discharged 65 million gallons of radioactive wastewater into Hillsborough Bay, Florida; and in 2016 Mosaic’s New Wales gypstack released 215 million gallons of radioactive wastewater into the Floridian aquifer, a drinking water source for 10 million people. In 2018, the 200 foot (60 meter) high gypstack at the Uncle Sam plant was found to be gradually collapsing, threatening the Blind River watershed and the Maurepas Swamp.

(See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Enforcement and Compliance History Online for Mosaic's facilities in St. James - here and here. Note that auto-display of data from this link may be disabled for some browsers. If so, copy the URL manually into a new browser window to see it.)

Mosaic Plant PHOTO Ernst Peters
Mosaic in Florida, Photo: Ernst Peters

A similar collapse was averted in Tampa Bay, Florida, in April 2021 after the company pre-emptively pumped waste water into the bay causing a massive die-off for fish and marine life. Mosaic also paid $2 billion to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 to settle charges of mixing 60 billion pounds (27.2 million tonnes) of phosphate waste with other toxic products. Local community members have been campaigning for years to shut down Mosaic’s strip mining and fertilizer plants in Florida and Louisiana.






To learn more about Mosaic, see the CorpWatch Gulliver profile here. A complete list of CorpWatch's Cancer Alley profiles may be accessed here.

Quick Facts: Mosaic

Environmental justice indicators within a one mile radius of Mosaic;s facilities in St. James (US EPA, 2022)

  • People of color in 1 mile proximity of plant: 89 percent
  • Poverty rate in 1 mile proximity of plant: 53 percent
  • Air quality: 93 µg of PM2.5 fine particulate matter/m3 (U.S. national standard: 12µg/m3)
  • Cancer risk from air toxics per million people: 99 (U.S. national standard: 1/million, actual average: 30/million)


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