Sierra Club Calls For Moratorium On New Mining Permits and More

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photo by WFTV Ch 9

Maryilyn Meyer of the Ledger has written a piece about the news conference in Haines City where Sen. Soto and the Sierra Club voice concerns about the phosphate industry in Florida and the recent problems it has caused.

Continue reading for a synopsis of the article, or go here for the entire piece.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life:  once taken, it cannot be brought back-


Sierra Club calls for study on impacts of fertilizer plants, gypsum stacks

Posted Nov 4, 2016 at 9:10 AM Updated Nov 4, 2016 at 3:17 PM

Nearly seven weeks after a sinkole opened near a Mosaic fertilizer plant in southwest Polk County, sending 215 million gallons of contaminated wastewater into the Floridan Aquifer, a group of activists and a congressional candidate called for more accountability and quicker action by the company, and state and federal environmental officials.

By Marilyn Meyer
HAINES CITY — Nearly seven weeks after a sinkhole opened near a Mosaic fertilizer plant in southwest Polk County, sending 215 million gallons of contaminated wastewater into toward the Floridan Aquifer, a group of activists and a congressional candidate called for more accountability and quicker action by the company, and state and federal environmental officials.

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Sen. Darren Soto

The Sierra Club of Florida, state Sen. Darren Soto — the Democratic candidate for Congressional District 9 — and community activist Luella Phillips hosted a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Lake Eva Complex in Haines City to raise several issues and call for these actions:

■ The Department of Environmental Protection start door-to-door canvassing to inform residents of Mulberry and the rural area potentially impacted by contaminated well water about what happened and of their rights to have their water regularly tested and to have free bottled water delivered.

■ The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conduct a study considering all the impacts fertilizer processing and gypsum stacks have on the aquifer and drinking water. This would supplement an existing study the Corps did on the impact of phosphate mining on the state’s environment.

■ The Sierra Club, but not Soto, also called for Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to place a moratorium on issuing new mining permits until after the study is completed.

On Aug. 28, Mosaic reported to state and federal environmental officials that the depth of a wastewater pond atop a tall hill of waste, called a gypsum stack, had suddenly dropped by 2 feet. Mosaic also reported to state officials that on Sept. 5, a sinkhole opened and the contents of the wastewater pond disappeared.

The public learned about the sinkhole through news accounts starting Sept. 16. The sinkhole made national and international news because the byproducts of phosphate fertilizer processing is slightly radioactive and includes radionuclides, spent sulfuric acid, salts, phosphorous, fluoride and other contaminants. There is fear that water from the sinkhole could reach down into the Floridan Aquifer, which supplies much of the drinking water for the state of Florida.

On Oct. 24, the state DEP signed a consent order requiring Mosaic to plug the sinkhole, recover all the contaminated water, and continue to monitor for off-site impacts, such as contamination of wells and other waterways, and to mitigate any damages. Mosaic was required to post $40 million and was informed violation of the agreement could lead to fines of up to $10,000 a day.

— Marilyn Meyer can be reached at marilyn.meyer@theledger.com or 863-802-7558. Follow her on Twitter @marilyn_ledger.

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