Sen. Bill Nelson asks CDC to study long-term health effects of toxic algae blooms

Jul 9, 2018 \\ By Ali Schmitz, Treasure Coast Palm

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide "emergency assistance" to research the long-term health risks associated with toxic algae that's covered Lake Okeechobee and Florida coastal communities.

In a Monday letter, Nelson asks CDC Director Robert Redfield to study and properly communicate health risks from living near or coming into contact with algae.

Nelson previously announced his impending request during July 5 visits to communities affected by the algae blooms: Stuart, Fort Myers and Belle Glade.

"I repeatedly heard the same message: We need trustworthy, timely information about the potential health consequences of exposure to toxic algae for prolonged periods," Nelson said in the letter.

Everglades funding

In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Nelson urged the federal government to provide more funding to Everglades restoration projects in upcoming budgets.

Nelson said he would like to see at least $200 million directed toward the Central Everglades Restoration Project and the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir.

“The only way to end those damaging discharges is to move ahead with Everglades restoration projects north of the lake as well as the projects designed to take water from the lake, clean it and send it south as Mother Nature initially intended it to go,” Nelson said. "The federal government should to take the lead and do what's right. We should move forward and fully fund the only ongoing Everglades restoration projects."

Nelson lambasted the Florida Legislature for diverting Amendment 1 money to fund some state agencies' general operating expenses. Florida voters overwhelmingly approved the 2014 constitutional amendment, whose ballot sponsors said the money was intended for land and water conservation projects. 

The criticism extends to Gov. Rick Scott, though Nelson didn't call him by name, because the governor signed off on the budget. Scott, a Republican, is challenging Nelson, a Democrat, for his Senate seat in the Nov. 6 election.

 

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