The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has weighed in on the fix for the giant sinkhole at the Mosaic phosphate plant in Mulberry.
The company has issued its marching orders for the company to follow as it fixes the sinkhole, which has leaked more than 200 million gallons of slightly radioactive water into the ground.
And the deal clearly defines the state’s expectations for the cleanup.
Not only is the DEP requiring Mosaic to clean up the massive sinkhole, but the state is also guaranteeing its cooperation, making Mosaic put up $40 million in financial assurances.
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As part of the cleanup deal with the state, Mosaic must seal the sinkhole and the company must make sure it recovers all discharged water from it.
Also, Mosaic must verify the long-term effectiveness of that repair work.
It must also continue collecting the impacted groundwater from the aquifer in a well to keep it all onsite. And, as a backup, there will be a second well installed just in case the primary fails.
If for any reason the wells are compromised, Mosaic will have to remediate and provide people living in the affected area with clean drinking water.
In a statement, Mosaic officials said “ensuring the safety of our community and employees, and the proper management of environmental resources, continues to be our top priority as we remediate the sinkhole.”
Mosaic officials added that the company has been committed to keeping the water from the sinkhole onsite with no impacts in the community.
If the company doesn’t comply with the order from the state, it will face fines of up to $10,000 a day.
Workers at the New Wales plant off Highway 640 discovered the sinkhole under a gypsum stack on Aug. 27. Since then, Mosaic, the Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA have been on site monitoring the situation.
A private company testing hundreds of nearby private wells said it has found higher-than-drinking-water levels of radiation in a couple of wells. The levels are above the EPA drinking water standard of 15 gross alpha picocuries.
However, those results do not necessarily mean the radiation came from the sinkhole that sent millions of gallons of slightly radioactive water into the aquifer. Naturally occurring radiation emitted by the phosphate rock in Florida’s “Bone Valley” region could be responsible.