Florida Department of Environmental Protection Will Conduct a Regulatory Review of the Glades Mulch Fire
St. Lucie County - Wednesday September 14, 2022: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will conduct a regulatory review of the Glades Mulch Fire once it has been fully extinguished and the smoke has stopped. But that's about all they're saying at this point. Florida DEP has been avoiding comment on the fire and the fumes flowing from it.
Last Friday SLC Fire Chief Nate Spera said in a news release that the site is regulated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and oversight falls "outside the scope of local entities, including the City of Port St. Lucie and the St. Lucie County Fire District." However he said wasn't able to get through to DEP to discuss the matter until this past Monday, and DEP was a no-show at the Tuesday afternoon news conference about the issue.
In addition, two days of multiple calls for comment from WQCS News went unanswered until Wednesday when, instead of agreeing to an interview request, DEP Communications Officer Jon Moore provided a scripted email response saying - "DEP is committed to enforcing Florida's environmental laws and holding environmental polluters accountable." Moore said DEP "will investigate any compliance concerns and will take enforcement action as necessary to protect the environment and health and safety of the community."
The key question with regards to the health and safety of the community, and the principal complaint from residents, has been about the content of the fumes. Is the smoke rising from only organic matter like leaves, grasses and tree limbs, or has any other type of waste been burning, and polluting the air, with potentially harmful toxins?
The Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County told WQCS News that they don't analyze air quality for toxicity in cases like this. That is the responsibility of the Florida Department of Environmental Health, they said.
Its not clear whether any testing has been done or will be done. No response was received Thursday from DEP's Moore when we emailed that question back to him in response to his scripted statement to us.
Moore's scripted statement said only that DEP's regulatory review would begin "once first response activities are completed," at which time the fire will be out, and the fumes gone.
READ the email response from Florida DEP Communications Officer Jon Moore in Full below:
Following up from your voicemail, here is a quick update on where we are.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is committed to working with local officials as they work to extinguish the vegetative debris fire in St. Lucie.
Once first response activities are completed, the department will conduct its regulatory review for compliance with all applicable environmental regulations. This includes, but is not limited to, 62-701 and 62-709, Florida Administrative Codes (F.A.C.).
These rules contain requirements for registration as well as fire prevention. DEP is committed to enforcing Florida's environmental laws and holding environmental polluters accountable.
The department will investigate any compliance concerns and will take enforcement action as necessary to protect the environment and health and safety of the community.
We will continue to share information as we progress through this enforcement process.
Jon W. Moore
Communications / External Affairs
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Southeast District – West Palm Beach