The results of at least seven private wells around Mosaic’s toxic sinkhole came back with elevated levels of radioactivity this week, according to the company Mosaic paid to conduct the testing.
Although alarming, experts feel confident it’s not related to the sinkhole that opened up at the end of August, spewing more than 215-million gallons of radioactive waste into the aquifer.
“Nature puts its own materials in your water and radioactivity is one of those things,” said Dr. Brian Birky, Executive Director of the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute.
For neighbors just a couple miles away from the sinkhole, the latest results are rattling nerves.
“People get very sick. People die,” said Jim Pierce, referring to how radioactivity can affect people. “Health is one thing, death is another.”
His test results on the family’s private wells show normal readings for now. He’s anxious to find out when Mosaic will offer continuous testing.
“When me? When am I going to have to cap my well and have to start hauling water out here on a trailer,” he said.
Experts said it’s perfectly normal for ground water to contain low levels of radioactivity due to what they call “natural geology.”
In other words, water underground flows through rocks with radioactive materials, and depending on the depth of wells, some may get more than others.
Drinking over time can be hazardous.
“It’s just like rolling the dice. You may never have a health affect from this. Or you may get some sort of cancer from repeated consumption,” Dr. Birky said.
Birky hopes this environmental crisis is at least a wake-up call for everyone near and far drinking from private wells, adding that testing periodically is a good idea.
“You should know what you’re drinking and not just think well it’s natural, it’s good for me and it’s fine,” he said.