MULBERRY, Fla. - In a full-page ad over the weekend, a Mosaic executive penned a letter to the bay area, letting everyone know its efforts to catch contaminated water are working as planned.
But one line in the letter may turn some heads, suggesting sinkholes like the toxic one on their property, are completely natural. In other words, the company and all the work that goes on there, had nothing to do with it.
“I think we need proof to assess what actually caused this to form,” said Dr. Robert Brinkmann who literally wrote the book on Florida sinkholes called, “Florida Sinkholes.”
Brinkmann is a former professor at USF and he now works at Hofstra University in New York.
He has studied this issue extensively to help the public understand the ground they’re walking on.
Most will agree that sinkholes in Florida are a naturally occurring phenomenon and they can open up without warning, but occasionally humans can trigger a sinkhole, too.
“There are examples where adding weight on top of a sinkhole prone area induced a sinkhole,” Brinkmann said.
In the case at Mosaic, the sinkhole opened up under a 215-million gallon pond of toxic waste used to make fertilizer.
Roughly speaking, that’s the size of more than 325 olympic swimming pools and about as heavy as two and a half Empire State Buildings.
One year ago, even the EPA warned Mosaic of potential sinkholes, ordering them to drain some of the ponds incase it ever happened.
It’s too late now.
“I think storing acidic mine waste in a sinkhole prove area is problematic,” Brinkmann said, adding that it’s too early to tell exactly what caused this hole.
Brinkmann hopes the company shares any and all data collected so scientists get a clear view of what happened.
A company spokesperson announced Monday that over the weekend engineers were able to drop sonar-like equipment into the sinkhole for the first time. They hope to analyze the data and realize it sometime later this week.