Radioactive water leaks into Florida aquifer thanks to giant sinkhole
The water contains a "slightly" radioactive by-product from the production of phosphate, called phosphogypsum.
We might not know what the consequences are until it is too late.- Bradley Marshall, Earthjustice
The sinkhole was discovered by a worker on Aug. 27, but the company responsible for the phosphate, Mosaic, waited three weeks to notify authorities.
So-called "gypsum stacks" are common in Florida. These are piles of waste material generated in the processing of some fertilizers. It's believed the chemicals in these stacks undermine the earth below which can lead to sinkholes.
As It Happens host Carol Off asked Marshall about the situation:
Carol Off: What exactly is the stuff that is pouring into the sinkhole?
CO: The company Mosaic says it's only slightly radioactive.
CO: And that's where it's going?
BM: Yes, it's going into the aquifer.
CO: Directly in, like, it's going into the drinking water?
BM: Yes. It's going right into the Floridian aquifer which is the drinking water source for most people in Florida.
CO: The report from your department of environmental protection says that along with reviewing daily reports, it's performing frequent site visits to make sure a timely and appropriate response continues, it's safeguarding public health and the environment, and it's monitoring the process water to make sure it's ok. Does that reassure you?
BM: I think every step that they can do at this point is good, but no. The damage, in some ways, is done. Yes, the company can try and recover what waste water it can from the aquifer, but no matter what they do, they're not going to recover it all. We might not know what the consequences are until it's too late.
For more on the leak, listen to our full interview with Bradley Marshall of Earthjustice.