DEP and Mosaic are fighting back against allegations that they were negligent regarding the Sinkhole forming underneath the gypsum plant in Mulberry, Florida. They say two retired government hydrologists noticed the sinkhole forming one year before, but did not do preventive measures to stop the sinkhole forming and ending up putting radioactive chemicals in the aquifer.

Incorrect information

State and company officials are contending with the retired hydrologists that based their conclusions on incorrect data and that the Tampa Bay Times should not have published their story.

The two hydrologists, married couple Don Rice and Mary Hrends, noticed that one year ago one of the monitoring wells indicated that the level of the aquifer jumped 40 feet. They made a note and confirmed that a sinkhole would form if it wasn't prevented at the first signs of showing collapse. This data comes from the monitoring well that was installed after a 1994 sinkhole opened up at the same plant and drained contaminated water into the aquifer. Since 1994, there have been other monitoring wells stationed around the plant. In 2015, one of the wells showed the 40 feet jump from the aquifer, the hydrologists said that it was a sign that some of the gypsum was getting into the water supply. The sinkhole in question was not detected until August of last year by Mosaic.

Mosiac and the DEP argue that the gypsum stack in question where the hydrologists indicated the sinkhole forming was one already scheduled for a shutdown, not the one that formed last year. dep and mosaic contend with the information that the hydrologists were misinformed of the sinkhole forming and are therefore incorrect in their findings.

DEP officials said in an email Friday to the Times that the gypsum stack where the hydrologists saw the 40-foot jump was a gypsum stack on the north side of the property and has not been in operation for the past 12 years. It was not in the right location where the sinkhole opened up last year. The gypsum stack that was shut down was being poured with grout and that was why the well's reading jumped. Whatever the case, no one believes in Mosaic or the DEP anymore, especially when public health is at stake.