A massive sinkhole (40 feet
accross) at a fertilizer plant in
Mulberry, Florida, has caused
about 215 million gallons of radioactive
water to drain down into
Floridians’ aquifer system, according
to a local television station
The aquifer system supplies
drinking water to millions of
Florida residents, based on facts
available on the St. Johns Water
Management District's website.
Additionally, water that escapes
from the aquifers create springs
used for recreational activities like
snorkeling and swimming.
The fertilizer company
Mosaic wrote on its website that it
discovered a sinkhole 45 feet in diameter
at its New Wales facility
after noticing water levels had
dropped in a stack of radioactive
waste product known as phosphogypsum
in late August.
Phosphogypsum is a waste
product resulting from the processing
of phosphate to make fertilizers,
according to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.
The byproduct is often stored by
industrial plants in mountainous
piles known as phosphogysum
"Based on the nature of the
water loss and what we've learned
so far," the sinkhole damaged the
liner system at the base of a
phosophogypsum stack, Mosaic
said on Thursday.The pond on top of the cell
drained as a result" and "some
The fertilizer company
added that it believes the sinkhole
reached the Floridian aquifer, and
WFTS reported that the company
told the station about 215 million
gallons of contaminated water
used to process fertilizer drained
had into the hole.
After learning of the water
loss, "Mosaic immediately implemented
additional and extensive
groundwater monitoring and sampling
regimens and has found no
offsite impacts," the company
said. Additionally, Mosaic "began
pumping water out of the west
cell" of the affected phosphogypsum
stack "into an alternative
holding area on site to reduce the
amount of drainage."
The company has also "begun the
process of recovering the water"
drained through the sinkhole "by
pumping through onsite production
wells," it said.
The Florida Department of Environmental
"confirmed that Mosaic immediately
took steps to investigate and
initiate corrective action," according
to FDEP Deputy Press Secretary
Dee Ann Miller.
As required by their state
permit and federal requirements,
Mosaic notified both EPA and
DEP of a water loss incident at
their New Wales facility," Miller
told ABC News today. "Mosaic
continues to regularly update the
department and EPA on progress."
Miller added that along
with reviewing daily reports, the
FDEP "is performing frequent site
visits to make sure timely and appropriate
response continues in
order to safeguard public health
and the environment."
Miller elaborated and said
the company is updating state and
“Along with reviewing
daily reports, DEP is performing
frequent site visits to make sure
timely and appropriate response
continues in order to safeguard
public health and the environment,”
Miller wrote in an email.
“While monitoring to date
indicates that the process water is
being successfully contained,
groundwater monitoring will continue
to ensure there are no offsite
or long-term effects.”
Nevertheless, the Polk County
phosphate plant is still running.