Target 8: Records provided by state leave questions about Mosaic sinkhole

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – While a massive sinkhole unnerved its Mulberry and Lithia neighbors, documents provided by the state show little to no urgency about the radioactive water that poured into the aquifer.

Either that, or Congresswoman Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee, says Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and/or Gov. Rick Scott’s office failed to provide all records as required by law.

“It’s appalling either way, right?” Rep. Graham asked.

Records show on Sept. 12, more than two weeks after water began escaping, the federal Enviornmental Protection Agency wrote to the state. The note reads in part:

“We have received the Mosaic document of Friday, September 9, in which Mosaic suggested a meeting between the governments and Mosaic … Has there been any discussion relating to having that meeting?”

Florida’s DEP responded, saying, “Mosaic suggested the meeting be held within the last week of September.”

That would be a full five weeks after the sinkhole opened.

Mosaic discovered the leak Aug. 27. It informed DEP the next day.

DEP kept it from the public until Target 8 reported on Sept. 15 the sinkhole dumped 215 million gallons of highly contaminated water into the aquifer, our source of drinking water.

Records show on the 19th, when a neighbor asked DEP’s Groundwater Management Division how it will require Mosaic to clean up the contamination, the agency responded by saying, “I am not familiar with the incident you are referring to.”

“You work for the Florida DEP in Groundwater Management and you do not know about this?” the neighbor asked.

Graham chided DEP and the governor’s office Wednesday. “The Governor’s office and DEP should have been ringing alarm bells and taking swift action … Either we are missing documents or the state didn’t particularly care.”

Around 2,000 emails were provided by DEP and the governor’s office. Hardly any of them discuss the sinkhole before Sept. 15, when Target 8 broke the story. This means DEP was asleep at the wheel, made a point not to put anything in writing or is withholding records, which vioaltes the law. Overall, DEP seemed more concerned with scripting answers to questions from the public and media than it was sharing information with its own scientists.

If you have a problem you think should be investigated, call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808.


September 16, 2016: Massive sinkhole drains contaminated water into Floridan aquifer

September 18, 2016: Contaminated well concerns prompt protests after Mosaic sinkhole incident

September 20, 2016: 8 INVESTIGATES: Private wells tested for contamination after sinkhole swallows radioactive water

September 21, 2016:  8 INVESTIGATES: State kept Hillsborough in dark about Mosaic sinkhole contamination

September 21, 2016: Polk County knew of Mosaic sinkhole in early September, but public wasn’t informed

September 22,2016: 8 INVESTIGATES: First test results back from private wells near Mosaic sinkhole

September 23, 2016: Federal officials to visit Mosaic sinkhole site today

September 23, 2016: Governor ignores secrecy, defends DEP in sinkhole contamination

September 26, 2016: Mosaic sinkhole prompts Gov. Scott to issue emergency ruling

September 27,2016: Governor not ready to fire Florida DEP chief for withholding contamination information

September 28, 2016: DEP kept Gov. Scott in dark about sinkhole contamination

September 30, 2016: Congresswoman rips governor, DEP over sinkhole contamination secret

October 6, 2016: Fire officials: no dangerous compounds in suspicious substance in threatening letter to Mosaic

October 17, 2016: Mosaic sinkhole 152 ft. wide, depth still not known

October 19, 2016: Testing shows radioactive material in wells; state says material is unrelated to Mosaic sinkhole

October 25, 20168 INVESTIGATES: Mosaic to face heavy fines if sinkhole not repaired properly

October 28, 2016: Florida Congresswoman blames Governor for keeping Mosaic sinkhole secret

November 3, 2016: Mulberry sinkhole has environmentalists calling for halt in new phosphate mining permits provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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