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A massive sinkhole was formed at Mosaic’s New Wales fertilizer plant in late August 2016. It was an approximately 300 ft. deep and a hundred feet wide sinkhole that swallowed millions of gallons of wastewater.
According to a post by wfla.com on April 20th, 2021, the company has now applied for the expansion of the gypsum stack and asked The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to allow mining in 230 acres of additional area at the facility in New Wales, Polk County.
Jackie Lopez, the director at the Center of Biological Diversity, has criticized the approval of permit application by DEP. “I don’t know why anyone would authorize an expansion of the mining area if there are proven issues with it,” Lopez said.
On the other hand, Mosaic spokesperson Jackie Barron claims that her company has learned a lot from the terrible incident back in 2016. According to her, Mosaic has set up community advisory panels of residents who are in touch with the company and keep them aware of the concerns among the local community. She also said that the company has incorporated the latest technology to detect and monitor the movement of groundwater.
“We have the ability to do directional grouting to go in and fill any sort of void,” Barron said. “We have the technology in place.”
It took the fertilizer giant almost two years and 20 thousand cubic yards of grouting to fill the void created at the sinkhole location. Mosaic has asked the DEP to allow mining in additional 230 acres in the south of the already mined area. The company claims that it will not draw the operation any closer to the residents.
DEP has said that they will be giving their verdict on the issue by July 8. However, the company has not mentioned a date for the start of the expansion in case the permit is issued.
To find out more about nearby sinkholes in Polk County, check this Polk County sinkhole map.