Issues surrounding last year’s sinkhole beneath a gypsum stack at Mosaic’s New Wales plant near Mulberry will be the topic of a program tonight at 7 p.m. at the monthly meeting of Ancient Islands Sierra Club at Circle B Bar Reserve.
Guest speaker will be David Jellerson, senior director of environmental and phosphate projects at Mosaic.
This was the second sinkhole to occur beneath one of the plant’s stacks in the past 25 years.
Though it was not as large and dramatic as a sinkhole that occurred in 1994, it raised the same concerns from area residents concerned about the effect the pollution flowing down the hole into the Floridan aquifer—all sinkholes connect to the Floridan aquifer—would have on drinking water in private wells at rural homesteads that do the area.
The concern was compounded by the fact that neither Mosaic nor Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials notified the public initially.
Nevertheless, the word eventually got out and was quickly spread through local media outlets, causing a public furor.
Mosaic officials did notify Polk County officials that there was a problem at the plant, but didn’t specifically inform them it was a sinkhole. Instead, a consultant wrote that the pond stack’s water loss “may have been caused by an anomaly likely connected to the Floridan aquifer system.”
The lack of notification led to a change in state law that allows residents to receive alerts about environmental incidents.
Despite the public concerns, there is no evidence that the water pollution from either of Mosaic’s sinkholes ever affected any wells outside the plant’s boundaries.