TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Residents of two Mulberry mobile home parks have filed a federal lawsuit against mining giant Mosaic, alleging the company failed to properly reclaim a former phosphate mine that operated where the communities now stand.
The suit, filed Wednesday in Tampa, also names Yes Companies and CHC VI Ltd., the developers of Paradise Lakes and Angler’s Green respectively, for failing to notify homeowners of the dangers of living on radioactive wasteland.
“After polluting the land and inadequately remediating the land, Mosaic sold the land…with no disclosure of the hazardous nature and that it was unfit for residential use,” the complaint reads.
In the complaint, attorneys for Paradise Lakes resident Christine Cruz and Angler’s Green resident Steven Foster argue the level of radiation families are exposed to is akin to receiving a chest x-ray once a week.
The lawsuit seeks damages and class-action status but Cruz knows no amount of money can take back the potential damage to the health of her and her kids.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how my kids are exposed to this,” Cruz said, speaking to 8 On Your Side exclusively prior to the lawsuit’s filing.
Cruz and her family moved into Paradise Lakes from out of state in 2006. She says she was never informed of what the land previously was. An old neighbor eventually told them it was once a phosphate mine, but the potential health risks were never addressed.
“We had no idea what we were moving in to,” Cruz said.
Years later, Cruz saw 8 On Your Side reporting about a similar situation in Lakeland where thousands of homes were built on potentially-contaminated land from a reclaimed phosphate mine. Curious if her mobile home park could be in danger, she contacted the attorneys in the Lakeland case.
Cruz then acquired a meter to measure the levels inside her home. She says the radiation registered at three times what’s considered safe under state and national guidelines.
With proper remediation, radioactive materials used in phosphate mining can remain in soil and groundwater for thousands of years. Exposure to that leftover material, such as gamma radiation, is scientifically proven to damage organs and cause cancer, even in low doses.
“The concrete slabs these homes are on are not even remotely enough to shield from this radiation,” according to Mark Lanier, one of the lawyers on the case. “These people are in radioactive land all the time!”
Historical records show the land may have been mined until as late as 1968 under Mosaic’s predecessor, International Minerals and Chemicals Corporation and IMC Global.
Lanier explained there is a proper way to reclaim mined land and eliminate dangerous radioactive material, but the effort comes at an expense.
“Mosaic chose. They didn’t want to dig into their pockets and put the land back the way it should be,” Cruz said.
As for Cruz, her home’s value is shot and she has no money to move.
More importantly, she fears she or her kids may still wind up paying an even steeper price.
“No parent should ever have to go through their kid having cancer because we chose to live here,” she said.
As of this writing, Mosaic and the mobile home park developers had not been yet been served the lawsuits and therefore told 8 On Your Side they were not in a position to comment.
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