An investigation has been launched at Mosaic’s New Wales phosphogypsum facility in Florida following data from monitoring devices which indicated a potential tear in a buried liner. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was alerted by the devices, known as piezometers, which showed a change in water pressure in a limited area of the stack. Mosaic, a major producer of phosphate and potash fertilizers, sent a “critical condition notification” to the DEP.
Mosaic spokesperson Sarah Fedorchuk confirmed that drilling is currently underway to gather more information about the issue. She explained that further monitoring will be conducted in the coming days and weeks in order to ascertain whether or not there is a tear. The installation of these monitoring devices was prompted by a significant sinkhole incident at the New Wales facility in 2016.
Meanwhile, the DEP is overseeing its own regulatory investigation and closely monitoring Mosaic’s response to the situation. DEP spokesman Brian Miller highlighted that inspections and data submitted by Mosaic so far indicate that there has been no breach of the gyp stack walls and no discharges to surface water. Miller also revealed that Mosaic ceased stacking and process water storage in the affected area in 2022.
While neither the DEP nor Mosaic have given a specific timeline for the investigation, Fedorchuk assured that wells have been put in place to capture water from the facility before it reaches the aquifer in the event of a tear. She emphasized that measures have been taken to prevent any potential off-site impacts.
The New Wales facility is responsible for the production of phosphogypsum, a byproduct of the fertilizer production process. The substance contains naturally occurring radioactive material and must be stored in lined stacks to prevent contamination of the surrounding environment. Phosphogypsum stacks have been a topic of concern in the past due to the potential for environmental harm if they are not properly managed.
This latest incident will undoubtedly raise questions about the safety and regulation of such facilities. The DEP’s investigation aims to determine if any violations have occurred and whether penalties or enforcement actions are necessary. The findings will be crucial in ensuring the protection of the environment and the surrounding communities.
More detail via WFLA here… ( Image via WFLA )