Thanks to several people, not sure who they all are, your historian was able be on board a flight over Mosaic mine south and east of Tampa on July 27, 2017. Some of those people are Cody Phillips, Gina La Bruno, Ed Golly and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson. If there are more, please excuse my ignorance and accept my apologies.
The flight was on a Cessna 210, year of 1977, kept in top, like-new condition by owner/pilot Ed Golly of Tampa who most generously provided transportati0n, first by Tesla and next by Cessna. Companions on the flight were serious water warriors Betty Osceola and Houston Cypress from deep in the Everglades. Also aboard were Kat Springs, AKA Kathy Wood, and son Aaron, who I believe enjoyed the flight almost as much as your writer. Which means means he really liked it.
Perspective is elusive here, as the water sits atop a high gypstack. The huge sinkhole is between the two ponds and can be seen in the upper center.
Adding to the enjoyment was leaving from Tampa Executive Airport, which in 1972 was known as Vandenberg, where your writer earned his pilot license from Eddie Vandenberg. The airport was quite different back then.
Another view, showing all the equipment on top of the stack. The area shown here was a lake of toxic water until the sinkhole opened up in August, 2016 and drained it into the aquifer.
Very soon after takeoff the infamous New Wales gypstack appeared on the horizon. This oft-photographed hole has changed very little, but the surroundings are now very different than last September when it was first seen by the public.
It is a little hard to tell, but it appears that Mosaic has filled the entire lake bottom on the top of the gypstack, right up to the sinkhole, as can be seen in the closeup. It appears that no machinery has been close to the opening as yet.
The fact that Mosaic and the DEP both covered up the fact that the sinkhole was possibly putting nearby residents at risk was harmful to the reputations of both the phosphate company and the state agency.
Their cover-up lasted nearly three weeks before discovered by a Tampa TV station. Mosaic eventually apologized, but the DEP said only that they followed the law and admitted to no ethical or moral wrongdoing. Many deem this inexcusable conduct by an agency which is supposed to protect the environment instead of catering to industry.
In the photo above we see reclaimed land where phosphate-bearing ore was removed. Since so much earth is removed, water fills in some areas. Swimming in and consuming fish from the waters may not be recommended. Much of the reclaimed land has no dwellings nor agriculture, but some areas do.
One of several of the Mosaic plants scattered in the area.
One of several draglines scooping up the earth. This one is several miles south of Bartow. It will be many years before this land is reclaimed, and many say it will never be the same as before. This scene could be on the Santa Fe River if HPS II achieves their goal in Union and Bradford Counties.
Left to right, Kathy Wood, Aaron Wood, Betty Osceola, pilot Ed Golly, Houston Cypress
As there is too much material for one post, we will continue with more later.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-