Water meeting safety standards after Florida sinkhole leak: Mosaic

Thu Sep 29, 2016 12:02pm EDT
 
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By Rod Nickel

Sept 29 (Reuters) - Testing of nine wells near a sinkhole at a Mosaic Co fertilizer facility in Florida, site of a massive leak of contaminated water, shows that water meets safe drinking standards for radioactivity and damage has not spread beyond the site, the company said.

A sinkhole 45 feet (13.7 meters) in diameter and 240 feet deep opened in late August at Mosaic's New Wales phosphate facility 30 miles east of Tampa. The retention pond of a phosphogypsum stack, a hill of hazardous waste generated by phosphate production, leaked the equivalent of 326 Olympic swimming pools of contaminated water into a Florida aquifer.

Samples were collected from wells within three to five miles of Mosaic's facility at Mulberry, Florida, by environmental consulting firm ECT. A third-party lab conducted tests measuring radioactivity in the water and found that they meet state and federal standards, Mosaic said in a statement on its website late on Wednesday.

"These results further verify that there have been no offsite impacts as a result of this incident," the Minnesota-based company said.

Others were not convinced.

Just because polluted water has not yet turned up off site, does not mean it will not happen in the future, said Bradley Marshall, a lawyer with Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization.

Louella Phillips, who has a well and lives about three miles east of the sinkhole, said her bathwater appeared rusty on one occasion after the Aug. 27 incident but before the public was notified in mid-September.

"We drank it for two to three weeks before they ever announced it," she told Tampa radio station WMNF on Tuesday. "All three kids have been sick ever since."   Continued...