MULBERRY, Fla. (WFLA) —- A giant sinkhole sucked hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive water from a gypsum stack in Mulberry and dumped it into the aquifer. Now, we’ve found out the government kept the lid on it.
The sinkhole at the Mosaic New Wales plant in Mulberry, swallowed the 215 million gallons of contaminated water back in late August.
No one knows for sure how deep the hole is. Mosaic says there is no evidence the sinkhole is growing or endangers other water compartments of the gypsum stack. It also states recovering that 215 million gallons of contaminated water from the aquifer is a process that will take years.
The immediate concern, any threat to the public.
“There is no threat to the public,” said David Jellerson, Senior Director of Environmental & Phosphate Projects for Mosaic.
The water was in a containment pool. It was used to help produce fertilizer. The mission now, contain contaminated water on Mosaic’s property, stop it from spreading to the wells of neighbors like Gin Risk.
“Right now I’m not too concerned because I’ve been here long enough to know Mosaic does take care of their problems,” said Risk.
According to Mosaic, a recovery well is designed to capture the contaminated plume. “The recovery well has started to detect some traces of contaminated water,” Jellerson added.
What’s the plan to fix the hole? Do what they did in 1994, and again in 2004 when sinkholes opened on this property. Inject a stabilizing cement or grout, fill the hole.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the lead government agency monitoring this incident. D.E.P. points out Mosaic notified all the required government agencies.
But, none of those agencies, the E.P.A., Polk County Commissioners nor the D.E.P. bothered to notify the public. It sat on the information for 19 days until 8 On Your Side discovered the incident and exposed it.
“I can assure everyone that the water quality even on our property is still very clean, very good water quality,” explained Jellerson.
Some wonder how Mosaic can possibly capture all the contaminants that are now in the aquifer. David Jellerson says the recovery process will take years.
“If I start seeing a difference in my water then I will become concerned,” said Gin.
Jellerson adds that if any neighbors are concerned about the integrity of their water they can contact Mosaic and the company will test their wells for them.
Neighbor, Mashell Hooker said, “I just want to make sure that the water’s not contaminated for all of us in this neighborhood.”
Hooker noticed a change in the water about two weeks ago, “We noticed a strong like rotten egg smell. And we’ve never had sulfur in our water. We’ve never noticed a smell like that before.”
Mahell’s husband, Bill Hooker told News Channel 8 that the couple called a contractor He said, “To check the water and to get the water system, trying to clean up the smell, which was an unusual smell for us that hadn’t ever been in the water before.”