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article imageFlorida sinkhole still draining contaminated waste into aquifer

By Karen Graham     Sep 29, 2016 in Environment
Mulberry - Neighbors of the Mosaic Company, a producer of phosphate and potash for fertilizer in Mulberry, Florida, are still waiting for test results on how much contamination is in their drinking water, and answers are not forthcoming.
On September 19, Digital Journal reported on a massive sinkhole beneath a phosphate strip mine in Central Florida that allowed contaminated wastewater to flow into the Floridian aquifer for three weeks before the public was ever notified.
As of Thursday, over 200 million gallons of contaminated wastewater has flowed into the 45-foot diameter sinkhole that formed under a pile of waste material called a "gypsum stack," and according to aerial photos and video shot by The Associated Press on Thursday, the wastewater is still flowing into the sinkhole, and on down into the Floridian Aquifer.
On Thursday, company spokesperson Jackie Barron said water had been pulled from a recovery well a quarter-mile from the sinkhole, and tests showed acidity and phosphates were present. Mosaic executives also said the sinkhole is much deeper than their first estimate of 300-feet.
According to NPR.org, Mosaic says a third-party firm has carried out tests on nine water wells close to the New Wales plant. Those tests, Mosaic said in a statement Wednesday, "have all returned results that are within normal drinking water standards."
In the Sept. 29 statement released by Mosaic, the company said "an early-morning version of an Associated Press story incorrectly stated that “the Mosaic Co… acknowledged Wednesday that the contamination is spreading in the groundwater.”
Additionally, the statement reads: "The reporter misunderstood the difference between the well that Mosaic is operating to recover the water that entered into the sinkhole at its New Wales property and monitoring wells that are located on the perimeter of Mosaic’s property. To be clear: the data collected from our existing Floridan aquifer monitoring wells continue to show no signs of offsite impact."
Residents of the town of Mulberry should read the statement in full before making claims to reporters on the sinkhole problem because they could be misquoted or misunderstood. According to Mosaic, they have been testing people's water wells on request and have been handing out bottled water on request.
Additionally, contrary to some media reports, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Polk County were notified immediately upon finding a change in water level in the process pond atop the west compartment of the South gypsum stack on August 27.
However, the sinkhole was not apparent until September 6. Earlier news reports said an employee had discovered the sinkhole on August 28. In a press release two days ago, Florida Governor Rick Scott, blaming outdated environmental protection laws, issued an emergency order that requires the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to notify the public within 24 hours of any "pollution incident."
Environmentalists are still not pleased with how things are going, even though Mosaic has assured the public the groundwater is safe. As Earthjustice's Tania Galloni said in a statement, "these phosphate companies are playing roulette with our public waters."
More about Sinkhole, mosaic company, tainted water, Florida, floridian aquifer
 
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