POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WTSP) -- Several homeowners who live near Mosaic’s New Wales fertilizer plant are getting their wells tested this week. The company is bringing in a third-party testing company to do them for free.
This comes after a massive sinkhole opened up at the plant, causing 215 million gallons of radioactive water to seep into the Floridan Aquifer.
“We make jokes around here that when we start to glow after a shower, we'll know we're in trouble,” Joyce Hunter, who lives in Lithia, said with a hearty laugh.
Jokes aside, Hunter has some serious questions about the water quality at her home, which is just a few miles from the plant. She’s having two wells on her 16-acre property tested.
“I'm not expecting doomsday around here, but the big thing is we just want to know,” she said. “We want to know if the water is drinkable.”
Technically the plant is outside of Mulberry's city limits, but people there are worried about their drinking water too.
“So we have quadrupled our testing at this point,” City Manager Rick Johnson said. “We're testing it four times a day.”
So far, all the tests have come back normal and are being sent to a lab for more testing.
Still, Johnson said he would've liked a heads up about the sinkhole. City officials found out about it almost three weeks after it opened.
“Hearing it on the news caught us a little bit flat-footed,” he explained.
Protestors showed up at City Hall over the weekend, and the city’s been inundated with calls and emails about water quality.
Johnson said the company is now keeping the city in the loop, but Mosaic is defending its decision not to tell them in the first place.
“Not only was there no public health risk anyway, but there certainly wouldn't have been to Mulberry's public water supply,” Jackie Barron, a Public Affairs Manager for Mosaic, said.
Mosaic insists the contaminated water is contained to it's property, and said it will be able to pump up all of it over time.
In addition to free well testing, the company is offering free bottled water until homeowners get confirmation that their drinking water is safe. To request either of those services, you can call 813-500-6575.