HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Mosaic’s radioactive, contaminated water that leaked from a sinkhole, is being diluted and dumped into the Alafia river.
Nearly four months ago, Mosaic assured the public that contaminated water it recovered from the sinkhole spill would be kept and used at its Mulberry fertilizer plant.
According to Mosaic director of EHS Operations Neil Beckingham, some of the water is being stored and used on site.
However, contaminated water that it has no room for, is being diluted and discharged.
“So the outfall eventually that, that water does hit part of the tributaries that lead into the Alafia river system,” Beckingham said.
The Alafia river feeds Tampa Bay Water’s regional reservoir from which much of eastern Hillsborough County gets its drinking water.
Beckingham now assures that the discharged contaminated water meets strict state standards.
“So that’s why they are measuring, they’re measuring to make sure we have no impact,” he added.
The sinkhole opened in August. It dumped 215 million gallons of contaminated water into the aquifer, threatening nearby wells.
Mosaic told Hillsborough County’s Environmental Protection Commission that within a month, workers will bore a hole on an angle from the top of the gypsum stack, then inject concrete under extremely high pressure to fill the hole.
Construction on the work pad and access ramp for the gypsum stack is nearly complete.
A well to the northwest of the sinkhole pumps roughly 5 million gallons a day to recover the contaminated water.
Mosaic plans another recovery well due west of the sinkhole directly in line with groundwater’s westerly flow.
“As time has gone by, we recognize that we could locate the well directly west instead of northwest and that that would be more efficient. So therefore we would have to pump potentially less water if we have a well in the west direction rather than the northwest,” Beckingham said.
By month’s end Mosaic also plans to stop bottled water deliveries to neighbors concerned about their well water.
Hillsborough County commissioner Stacy White asked Mosaic to continue delivering bottled water.
Mosaic consultant Dr. Nadim Fueihan, president of Ardaman & Associates told the EPC well testing and delivering bottled water is good for public relations, but technically or scientifically it is not necessary.
Hillsborough County commissioner Victor Crist took issue with that.
He asked Mosaic to continue delivering bottled water until neighbors, whose well water falls outside federal drinking water standards, can definitively rule out that the sinkhole incident has had no impact.
“For every scientist that says it’s one way there’s another scientist that says it’s another way. So as a policy maker, we should always rule on the side of caution and safety especially when there’s potential lives at risk,” Crist added.
Mosaic’s senior manager of public affairs, Richard Ghent said he would bring Crist’s request for continuing the bottled water deliveries to the company for its consideration.