Mulberry sinkhole has environmentalists calling for halt in new phosphate mining permits

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MULBERRY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Sierra Club is calling for a halt to new permits for phosphate mining in Florida.

The environmental group believes the U.S. Army Corps of engineers needs to conduct a new impact study in the wake of a giant sinkhole that opened at the Mosaic plant in Mulberry.

“Currently there are 25 stacks in the state. Each one an environmental disaster waiting to happen,” said Beverly Griffiths with the Sierra Club.

Louella Phillips Whitford lives less than 4 miles from the Mosaic plant and is worried her well water is now contaminated.

“It’s not something anybody should have to deal with,” said Whitford.

Her family has lived in the area since the 1920s but now she doesn’t want to bathe, drink or cook with the water from her well.

“One week my water stinks and it’s brown, I don’t let my kids in it. I wash my hair in bottled water. I wash my kids in bottled water,” Whitford said.

Mosaic contends they’ve tested Whitford’s well and many others in the area.

Mosaic released a statement on the issue late Thursday:

Those who want to shut down the phosphate industry are doing a disservice to the local community by suggesting the drinking water supply is anything but safe. With more than two months of water quality data available, reflecting the results of 1,039 drinking water wells, we have seen no offsite impacts. We remain confident in our efforts to recover the impacted water and implement a remediation plan to fill the sinkhole.

Louella Phillips Whitford just wants to know if she should continue to drink her water or not.

“What I do know is, Mosaic needs to take responsibility for what they’ve done,” said Whitford.

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