8 INVESTIGATES: First test results back from private wells near Mosaic sinkhole

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Courtney Tinsley and her family live less than three miles away from the Mosaic sinkhole.

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Courtney Tinsley and her family live less than three miles from a giant sinkhole on property owned by Mosaic.

The sinkhole is located at Mosaic’s New Wales plant Mulbery. The sinkhole opened in August and sucked 215 million gallons of contaminated water into the aquifer. That’s a huge concern to Tinsley and her neighbors who depend on well water.

“We are not drinking the water. We were advised not to drink the water, but we could take a bath in it. So, to allow my family and myself to get a bath in it, you know, your skin is the biggest organ in your body, so what is it doing if it is here,” said Tinsley.

Mosaic is now delivering bottled water to Tinsley and her neighbors, but she is worried about the future.

“What is going to happen if it is here and what’s going to happen if it is here, what will they do to help us?” said Tinsley.

The Mosaic Corporation has hired an outside testing company to test private wells for homeowners who live in the area.

Gary Uebelhoer with Environmental Consulting Technology says nine wells were tested Monday and so far the results show no contamination.

“In this case, we are looking for a fingerprint that would be indicative of Mosaic’s water,” said Uelbelhoer.

That doesn’t mean contamination won’t show up in the future. “The water may not be there today but it could be there in six months,” said Uelbelhoer.

Tinsley says her well was scheduled to be tested Wednesday afternoon, but she is also interested in getting someone else to test the water.

“We definitely want to get our own person to check the well to compare and see, because honesty is most important when you are taking care of someone’s life and it’s not just my family here, you see everybody who you’ve driven by,” said Tinsley.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection on Wednesday issued the following statement about the Mosaic Sinkhole:

“Since we learned of the incident, DEP has been on-site frequently and communicating with Mosaic daily to ensure effective response activities are underway and frequent monitoring continues to ensure the health and safety of nearby Floridians.

Ongoing monitoring of nearby wells continues to indicate that affected water is contained to the impacted site. The nearest private drinking well is around three miles away from the site of the leak, and thus far in DEP’s investigation there is no indication that there is a threat to these wells. Both Mosaic and DEP will continue to perform sampling, and if any indication of offsite migration is seen, affected homeowners will be immediately notified.

“Although the affected water is currently contained to the impacted site, DEP, in an abundance of caution, has coordinated with Mosaic to go above and beyond requirements of law and reached out to the nearest adjacent homeowners who may want their drinking water wells tested.”

The Office of Florida Governor Rick Scott also released a statement on Wednesday:

“Governor Scott will hold all responsible parties accountable for their actions and has directed the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to expedite their investigation which began almost a month ago.  This includes directing DEP to expedite all water quality tests to ensure safe drinking water for residents. Governor Scott has also directed the Department of Health to partner with DEP in their investigation to ensure all drinking water in the area is safe.  We know Mosaic has taken responsibility, but our job is to ensure 100 percent safe drinking water in Florida and to protect our pristine environment.  We will continue to expedite this process until all questions are answered.  We encourage lawmakers and others to make decisions on this issue based on facts and not on their own political interests.”   – Jackie Schutz, Communications Director, Governor Rick Scott

READ MORE ABOUT THE MOSAIC SINKHOLE:

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