Phospho-Gypsum

Geismar, Louisiana, USA

Effluents from fertilizer production are pumped into this “gyp stack.” The solid gypsum is scooped out by excavators before it hardens and is spread on the “impoundment” to build it up and allow for higher capacity. This waste is gypsum, sulphuric acid and an assortment of heavy metals, including Uranium and Radium. When the price of uranium is high enough, this facility can produce large quantities for sale to the nuclear industry. Small radioactive particles (radionuclides) from the impoundments can become airborne as wind-blown dust that people and animals can breathe, and they can settle out onto ponds and agricultural areas. Many of these impoundments are not lined, allowing the toxic slurry to mix with groundwater, and heavy rainfall will cause it to overflow and mix with surface water.

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