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By Douglas P. Guarino, Center for Public Integrity phosphatemining

The Environmental Protection Agency is walking away after a decades-long battle with Florida politicians and industry officials over cleaning up phosphate-mining waste in an area that could expose more than 100,000 residents to cancer-causing radiation levels.

Under a decision quietly finalized two weeks ago, the federal agency will leave it to state officials to decide the fate of the sites in and around Lakeland, an approximately 10-square-mile residential area midway between Orlando and Tampa.