Gov. Rick Scott Calls On Changes Following Mosaic Spill

MULBERRY, Fla.- A 300-foot deep sinkhole at the Polk County Mosaic plant has sparked debate over what is required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The sinkhole spilled 215 million gallons of contaminated water into the state’s aquifer last month. It has now been revealed that the DEP kept the issue quiet for three weeks and DEP officials called that going “above and beyond.”

But today Governor Rick Scott is commenting on that and changing what’s required of the DEP. Effective immediately, Scott wants the DEP to make a new rule to require the owner or operator of any facility, including city or county government, “to provide notification of incidents of pollution within 24 hours to DEP, local governments and the general public through the media.”

In the announcement Scott explained that he was making this change due to the delay in notifying residents in the area of the Polk County sinkhole and based it off of St. Petersburg’s continuous sewer drainage issue.

“It does not make sense that the public is not immediately notified when pollution incidents occur,” he said in a news release. “Today, I am demanding any business, county or city government responsible for a pollution incident to immediately tell the public. That is common sense and our residents deserve that.”

Scott said in his announcement that he plans to visit the sinkhole on Tuesday to be briefed by Mosaic officials. Mosaic, the largest phosphate company, is to explain what they have done so far to deal with and contain the contamination. Mosaic also apologized to the public for their delay in reporting the issue. The DEP however, believes they went “above and beyond” what the law requires, which was stated in Scott’s news release called “Setting the Record Straight” and was said to have been quoted by DEP Secretary Jon Steverson.

Currently the law requires that the public only needs to be notified if the contamination moves beyond the property owned by the company or entity that spilled the contamination. Scott is going to propose to legislation next year to put his new requirement (notification within 24 hours) into law.

This comes just days after it was announced that Mosaic was facing a federal lawsuit from surrounding neighbors. You can read more on the lawsuit at hand by reading Mosaic Facing Federal Lawsuit From Neighbors.

Quotes come from the Tampa Bay Times.