Graduation Year

2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Geography

Major Professor

Phillip Reeder, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Elizabeth Strom, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Graham Tobin, Ph.D.

Keywords

biologic, edaphologic, geographic, geomorphic, pedogenic

Abstract

This thesis was completed in order to assess and document the environmental effects that are the result of elemental phosphorus production in Pinellas County Florida. The study utilized a collection of information resources that included: personal interviews, technical references, historical documents, legal documents and field observations. By utilizing five different sources of information a broad understanding of the problem was developed.

Pinellas County and Tarpon Springs officials were interested in creating a more diversified economy in the years following World War-II. The Victor Chemical Works Company responded to the interest in economic diversity by proposing to build an elemental phosphorus production facility in the area of greater Tarpon Springs, Florida. The elemental phosphorus production facility was completed and began operation in November of 1947. Three months after the facility commenced production local residents noticed damage to trees and painted surfaces on private properties. Seven months following commencement of elemental phosphorus production local residents filed suit against the Victor Chemical Works Company due to deleterious gasses and dust that appeared to be damaging to biologic health. The elemental phosphorus production facility operated from 1947 to 1981.

The 34-year operational period exposed workers, residents and biologic communities to extended periods of elevated sulfur dioxide, phosphorus pentoxide gas, phosphine gas, fluorine, lead, radium-226 and asbestos.

Utilizing personal interviews, technical document review, legal document review and field observations the thesis provided an amalgamation of diverse information upon which the conclusions were based. The research concludes that the production of elemental phosphorus exposed all physical and cultural environments of northwest Pinellas County to many complex adverse environmental impacts that continue to persist in 2007, approximately 26-years following the suspension of production.

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