215 Million Gallons of Radioactive Water Threaten Drinking Water in Florida
Mulberry, Florida is now home to a giant sinkhole that has caused 215 million gallons of radioactive water to leak into the state’s supply of drinking water.
The contamination occurred when a sinkhole appeared at a phosphate fertilizer plant near Tampa, which damaged the stack where waste water was stored. This filtered into the state’s aquifer system, which supplies water to residents, making the water contain phosphogypsum. Phosphogypsum is classified as slightly radioactive and is a byproduct of the creation of fertilizer. This is due to the naturally-occurring uranium and radium in the phosphate ore.
The contaminated water also flows into springs used for activities like snorkeling and swimming.
Mosaic, the fertilizer company responsible for the contamination, has kept this sinkhole leak concealed for the better part of 3 weeks, leaving many residents wary when they state that there is no risk to the public. Mosaic claims that the water moves far too slowly to be a threat, however, many people aren’t buying the rhetoric.
Jacki Lopez, Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said of the newfound problem:
“It’s hard to trust them when they say ‘Don’t worry,’ when they’ve been keeping it secret for three weeks.”
Mosaic claims it didn’t inform the public when it initially occurred because they felt they were doing an adequate job of diverting the water source before it became a public hazard. They did inform the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), but the DEP also failed to make it known to residents.
“We don’t know what the long-term effects will be. If I were living in this area, and I had well water, I would be worried about my health.”
The company is attempting to recover the water by using production wells. They have also increased the water sampling and pumped water out of one of the effected ponds to hopefully reduce some of the leak.
The DEP is also performing frequent visits to the company to ensure that protocol is being followed and that no radioactive water makes its way into the water of residents of Florida.