Radioactive water pouring into massive sinkhole in Florida leeching into aquifer
Millions of litres of contaminated water is leeching into central Florida’s aquifer after a massive sinkhole opened up at a fertilizer plant last month.
The chasm opened in late August in the middle of a gypsum stack located on the property of a Mosaic Co. plant east of Tampa Bay, which produces phosphate fertilizers and animal feed ingredients.
The hole measures over 12 metres across, and officials are unsure of how deep it goes.
Since opening nearly three weeks ago, authorities believe more than 800 million litres of slightly radioactive water, contaminated with phosphoric acid, has cascaded into the gap.
David Jellerson, Mosaic’s director of environment and phosphate projects, told WFLA that employees were monitoring water levels on the stack on Aug. 27 when they noticed a drop.
“When it was first noticed, we installed pumping systems to move water out of that compartment on the gypsum stack, to recover the water,” he said.
Not all the water has been reclaimed by the pumps, but Jellerson said the company is “confident” the wells are capturing the water and “pulling it back.”
Mosaic doesn’t believe the toxic water has leaked into the private wells of local residents, but would provide tests if requested by homeowners.
“We continue to monitor the stack, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to insure that there’s no safety or environmental concern on top of the gypsum stack itself, as well as around the rest of the property,” plant assistant general manager Chris Hagemo also told WFLA.
Representatives from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have reportedly been visiting and monitoring the plant daily since the sinkhole was discovered.
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