Florida Congresswoman blames Governor for keeping Mosaic sinkhole secret

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POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Someone is holding up the release of state records about who came up with the bright idea to keep information about a sinkhole opening beneath a Mosaic gypsum stack secret.

Congresswoman Gwen Graham (D)-Fla. lays the blame on Governor Rick Scott’s crew.

“We have gotten nothing and we have been in constant communication with the Department of Environmental Protection asking for information,” Representative Graham said.

Citing Florida’s public records law, more than a month ago Ms. Graham’s office as well as News Channel 8 requested from the Florida’s DEP all correspondence about the sinkhole.

“I hope it’s not going to take a lawsuit, but in the past, that’s what it’s required in order to get public records laws met,” stated Representative Graham.  “The Governor’s office has chosen rather than release to pay huge fines.”

The sinkhole opened beneath at Mosaic’s New Wales plant in Mulberry Aug. 27. The state learned of the contaminated water loss the next day.  Neighbors were not informed for weeks.

DEP Deputy Secretary Gary Clark laughed it off in September when confronted about the delay by 8 On Your Side’s Mike Vasilinda. 8 On Your Side pressed the Governor for answers, asking if DEP kept him in the dark about the sinkhole would he fire secretary Jon Steverson?

“Well we’re in the middle of an ongoing investigation,” stated Governor Scott at a September news conference. “I’m not going to fire Secretary Steverson based on anything I know today, he followed the law.”

Mr. Steverson wasn’t chuckling when 8 On Your side caught up with him in Tallahassee earlier this week.

“We’re going to protect the citizens and the resources of this state,” he said.

The Governor’s office now claims Mr. Scott was kept in the dark about all this for weeks. But the state provided no documents to prove that, nor did it provide any to show who decided to keep the sinkhole and the escaped contaminated water a secret.

“Every Floridian should be up in arms and appalled that this is how the Department of Environmental Protection is operating,” stated Representative Graham.

Ms. Graham worries it may take a lawsuit to pry loose records that get to the bottom of why people weren’t notified.

“We must do better  and thank you for holding those accountable who should be held accountable,” she said.

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