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Water-Related News

Pollution notification plan continues to draw objections

Despite some changes to reassure the business community, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection continued to hear objections Monday to a pollution-notification rule proposed in the wake of high-profile incidents in Pinellas and Polk counties that raised questions about state environmental regulations.

The proposed rule, ordered by Gov. Rick Scott, would require any business, county or city government responsible for a pollution incident to notify the public within 24 hours. It was developed after a major St. Petersburg sewage spill and after a sinkhole at a phosphate plant south of Lakeland sent toxins into the Floridan Aquifer and threatened drinking water.

Some revisions to the rule were released Friday after members of the public --- primarily advocates for utility companies --- testified at a series of workshops about concerns the proposal would saddle them with undue regulatory burdens and substantial new compliance costs.

Within 24 hours after the initial public notification, according to the revised language released Friday, the responsible parties would have another day to release specifics of the pollution's likely effects.

The revisions also specify exactly how the news media would have to be notified: at least one local newspaper, by email or hand-delivered notice, and at least one local network television station, also by email or written correspondence.