MULBERRY, Fla. - Crews at the New Wales Mosaic plant are scrambling to stop contaminated and radioactive water from continuing to seep into the Floridan Aquifer.
Officials say a massive sinkhole was discovered August 27th in one of the Gypsum Stack’s containment ponds.
“One of our field technicians who’s job it is to monitor water levels in the ponds, when they were making their rounds they identified that there was a water level drop,” said David Jellerson, Senior Director of Environmental for Mosaic.
Once they drained the ponds, they discovered a 45 foot hole with seemingly no bottom.
Water continuing to stream down inside.
Officials say about 215 million gallons of contaminated water used to process fertilizer has drained into the hole.
“We activated a recovery well so we can capture any water that has gone down the hole,” said Jellerson.
That recovery well is pulling contaminated water out of the aquifer and back into the plant, a process officials say could take months to complete. Until then they’ll be relying on an extensive network of monitoring wells surrounding the plant. Officials say they will run tests to see how far the contaminated water may have traveled.
So far those wells have not detected any additional contaminants in the groundwater, which means the pumps are working.
“We’ve been in contact with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection every single day, they’ve been out here,” said Jellerson.
Right now officials say there is no risk to surrounding communities but have added around the clock monitoring of the cleanup effort.
Each one of the containment ponds sit on top of a liner that keeps the contaminated water from going into the ground. However officials say the sinkhole collapsed that liner sending the water gushing below.
You can search for Mosaic's compliance with environmental regulations on the EPA website.
Environmental and consumer activist Erin Brockovich has released the following statement about the incident.
This is a crime against humanity... the government in Florida will sweep under the rug; USEPA is a coconspirator. This could destroy the groundwater resources in this area forever.
Mosaic Fertilizer is the world's largest phosphate mining company... with a long and torrid history of breaking the law and buying their way out of it.
Just last year, October 1, 2015, Mosaic Fertilizer agreed to pay nearly $2 billion to settle a federal lawsuit over hazardous waste and to clean up operations at six Florida sites and two in Louisiana.
The USEPA promised the settlement and will ensure that wastewater at Mosaic's facilities is properly managed and does not pose a threat to groundwater resources... OOOOOPs!!!
The USEPA had accused Mosaic of improper storage and disposal of waste from the production of phosphoric and sulfuric acids, key components of fertilizers, at Mosaic's facilities in Bartow, New Wales, Mulberry, Riverview, South Pierce and Green Bay in Florida, as well as two sites in Louisiana.
The USEPA investigation and negotiations for a settlement have been going on for over NINE YEARS over practices that everyone in the phosphate industry was doing as well. SO I guess it is okay if, "everybody else is cheating".
The USEPA said it had discovered Mosaic employees were mixing highly corrosive substances from its fertilizer operations with the solid waste and wastewater from mineral processing, in violation of federal and state hazardous waste laws.
And finally... remember this is the same fertilizer that has been spread all over the nations farms... it's okay Iowa... you'll glow so brightly!