Mosaic apologizes for keeping residents in the dark about sinkhole

Company officials spoke to county commissioners about sinkhole on its property.

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WTSP) -- Mosaic admits it made a mistake. The company is saying sorry to the people who live near the plant. Those people had no idea when the massive sinkhole first opened that it let 215 million gallons of radioactive water into Florida's aquifer.

“In hindsight, if we had to do it over again, I think we'd do it a little bit differently,” Mosaic’s Vice President of Phosphate Operations Herschel Morris told Polk County commissioners Tuesday.

The sinkhole opened up at Mosaic's New Wales fertilizer plant near Mulberry at the end of August, but people in that area didn't get wind of it until late last week.

“We realize that we could've done a better job in providing more timely notification to our neighbors and the broader community,” Vice President of Phosphate Walter Precourt added.

Mosaic insists there's no reason for people who live near the plant to worry. The company is still monitoring it and still say the contaminated water is contained to their property, as they keep pumping it up from the aquifer.

Morris said they will likely be pumping for several years.

Commissioners seem satisified with Mosaic's response.

“Fortunately there was no loss of life,” Commissioner George Lindsey said. “The rest of this stuff can be fixed over time.”

Joyce Hunter, who lives in Lithia, had two wells at her home tested this week. She said she's not too worried, but would've liked a heads up when the sinkhole first opened.

“I think they were just hoping to goodness that we didn't get hurt and didn't find out, and that was not good,” she said. “It was not good because you have to be concerned about people health and welfare.”

Hunter said she accepts Mosaic's apology. On the other side of the plant in Mulberry, Deborah Thatcher can't decide if she's ready to forgive the company quite yet.

“I'm concerned for the long-term impacts it could have for the entire state,” she explained.

For now, she's drinking bottled water, while she waits for her well to get tested.

Mosaic plans to keep testing private wells over the next few months. The compay also is working on a plan to fill the sinkhole, probably with cement.

If you want your water tested, Mosaic is still offering to have a third-party testing company come out and do that for free. So far, they've gotten requests to test more than 60 wells. The number to call for that service is 813-500-6575.

More on the Mosaic sinkhole:

Mosaic confident it can contain spill

Protests of leak at Mosaic plant

Sinkhole opens at Mosaic plant


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