Floridians are no strangers to massive sinkholes opening up in their porous terrain often resulting in damage to surface infrastructure built on what was thought to be stable ground. But, for the latest massive sinkhole that just opened up in Mulberry, Florida, the problem isn’t what damage was caused on the surface but rather what was allowed to leak into the Floridan aquifer. Measuring in at a massive 40 feet in diameter, the latest Florida sinkhole opened up directly underneath a gypsum stack at Mosaic’s phosphate fertilizer producing New Wales facility about 30 miles east of Tampa. According to local news reports, the retention pond was holding 215 millions of gallons of “slightly radioactive” water that was also contaminated with phosphoric acid, all of which drained into the Floridan Aquifer.
As long as it’s only “slightly radioactive” then it’s probably OK.
Of course, per NBC, despite taking a week to discover the sinkhole and admitting they have no idea where the contaminated water flowed once underground, Mosaic has assured nearby homeowners, many of whom rely on well water, that there is no cause for concern. Mosaic even offered to test the water of worried homeowners, free of charge. Isn’t that incredibly nice?
Near the gypsum stack, Mosaic has monitoring wells. “We’re confident that the wells we started up are capturing that water pulling it back,” Jellerosn said.
He said the closest homeowners, who are all several miles away, can still use their water without worry, but if they have concerns, Mosaic will test it.
So far, the company maintains, everything is OK.
“We continue to monitor the stack, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to insure that there’s no safety or environmental concern on top of the gypsum stack itself, as well as around the rest of the property,” plant assistant general manager Chris Hagemo said.
Mosaic also confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times that the “sinkhole reaches the Floridan aquifer” but maintained that they have found “no off-site impact from the water loss.”
“A sinkhole formed under the west cell that we believe damaged the liner system at the base of the stack,” the company said in a news release. “The pond on top of the cell drained as a result, although some seepage continues. We estimate that the hole is approximately 45 feet in diameter and believe the sinkhole reaches the Floridan aquifer.”
The company reported that it immediately began to sample regimens and extensively monitor groundwater and found no off-site impact from the water loss.
“We are working closely with regulators and have been reporting to FDEP daily,” according to the news release. “We have also called in top experts in the field to advise us on this issue. Enhanced water quality monitoring continues, and we are developing a comprehensive corrective action plan to address and rectify the cause of the water loss.”
Yes, we too have “little” doubt that Mosaic was able to recover all of the contaminated water before it spread elsewhere in the massive interconnected Floridan aquifer which is just the “largest, oldest, and deepest aquifer in the southeastern U.S. ranging over 100,000 square miles.”
Mosaic’s New Wales facility is located about 30 miles directly east of Tampa and produces phosphate fertilizer and animal feed ingredients with finished products including Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), Monoammonium Phosphate (MAP) and Powdered MAP (PMAP); and feed ingredients: Biofos, Dynafos and Multifos.
The retention pond on the southwest corner of Mosaic’s property was the one that drained completely into the Floridan aquifer.
As if the complete collapse of farming incomes in the U.S. wasn’t putting enough pressure on Mosaic’s stock, now they have to contend with massive sinkholes opening up under their plants?