WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today sent a letter to Lieutenant General Scott Spellmon, the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, urging him to visit the communities affected by the Army Corps’ toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee before he authorizes the poisoning of American citizens this summer.
"If the Army Corps is going to poison our community and put lives at risk once again then Lieutenant General Spellmon should first look in the eye of every man, woman and child whose lives he will be putting at risk,” Rep. Mast said. “No Floridian should tolerate being poisoned by their government.”
In 2019, Lieutenant General Spellmon admitted in Congressional testimony to knowingly discharging toxic water from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers. Satellite images show that this week the algal bloom on Lake Okeechobee covered more than 500 square miles, and the algal bloom recently tested more than 100 times too toxic for human contact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In 2018, Lieutenant General Spellmon testified before Congress that he would be willing to work with Rep. Mast to prioritize public health in the Army Corps’ operations. So, on May 5, 2021, Rep. Mast's office reached out to Lieutenant General Spellmon’s staff to request that he visit Florida as soon as possible to view the toxic algal bloom on Lake Okeechobee. On May 7, 2021, however, Lieutenant General Spellmon’s staff replied that the Lieutenant General was unwilling to visit. Rep. Mast’s letter urges him to reconsider.
A copy of the letter that Rep. Mast sent to Lieutenant General Spellmon is attached.
- According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the algal bloom on Lake Okeechobee measured more than 500 square miles this week, making it larger than the size of New York City and Los Angeles.
- According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, water at the Pahokee Marina tested more than 100 times higher than the health advisory limit issued by the EPA for microcystin, which is caused by harmful algal blooms.
- A study released by the University of Florida found that these toxins can travel roughly 10 miles from the bloom source once airborne.
- According to the EPA, potential health impacts from exposure to these toxins include liver and kidney damage, ALS, Alzheimer’s, and even death.