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Phosphogypsum refers to the gypsum formed as a by-product of the production of fertilizer from phosphate rock. It is mainly composed of gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O). Although gypsum is a widely used material in the construction industry, phosphogypsum is usually not used, but is stored indefinitely because of its weak radioactivity. The long range storage is controversial.
Phosphogypsum is radioactive due to the presence of naturally occurring uranium and thorium. Marine-deposited phosphate typically has a higher level of radioactivity than igneous phosphate deposits, because uranium is present in seawater. Phosphogypsum also can contain high levels of cadmium.
Central Florida has a large quantity of phosphate deposits, particularly in the Bone Valley region. However, the marine-deposited phosphate ore from central Florida is weakly radioactive, and as such, the phosphogypsum by-product (in which the radionuclides are somewhat concentrated) is too radioactive to be used for most applications. As a result, there are about 1 billion tons of phosphogypsum stacked in 25 stacks in Florida (22 are in central Florida) and about 30 million new tons are generated each year.
The Minnesota-based company immediately reported the incident to state and federal environmental authorities, Mosaic spokesman Ben Pratt said on Friday. But it did not otherwise report it publicly until posting information on its website on Thursday, he said.
The nearly three-week gap between detecting the sinkhole and reporting it to the public is alarming, said Jacki Lopez, Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity.
"It’s hard to trust them when they say 'Don’t worry,' when they’ve been keeping it secret for three weeks," she said.
The sinkhole, located about 30 miles from Tampa, damaged the liner system at the base of the stack, causing the pond on top to drain. Seepage continued and the sinkhole reached Florida's aquifer, Mosaic said on its website.
Specific environmental and health concerns are the release of uranium, radium and radon gas, Lopez said. Once contaminants reach the aquifer, which extends from central Florida to Georgia, they can potentially travel hundreds of miles, she said.
"We don't know what the long-term effects will be," said Lopez. "If I were living in this area, and I had well water, I would be worried about my health."
originally posted by: MichiganSwampBuck
I blame the government for not having them use a better disposal method. They allowed the company to store it this way and now it polluted the ground water for hundreds of miles. But instead of taking the blame for poor regulations they will probably get some money out of the deal. Everyone in the effected area should sue the company and the government for damages and access to free clean water too.
Stacks are essentially mounds of phosphogypsum with retention ponds on the top. Here's a picture of another of Mosaic's stacks which had breached:
Is this setup typical AD? It looks like the retention pond gets higher and more susceptible the longer the mining continues.
Within thirty (30) Days after the Effective Date of this Consent Decree, Mosaic shall pay the sum of $4,100,000.00 as a civil penalty, together with Interest accruing from the date on which the Consent Decree is lodged with the Court, at the rate specified in 28 U.S.C. § 1961 as of the date of lodging, in accordance with Paragraphs 10 and 11.
originally posted by: theantediluvian
A sink hole, 45 feet in diameter, drained 215 million gallons of radioactive water from the retention pond of a phosphogypsum stack at Mosaic Co's New Wales facility in Mulberry, Florida on August 27th.
This is only one symptom, of a disease that has no solution. I realized that humans are not actually mammals. Every mammal on Earth instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but humans do not. Humans move to an area and multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way humans can survive is to spread to another area (planet). Human beings are a disease, a cancer of planets (i.e. Earth).
It happened three weeks ago and not only did the company not release this information to the public, neither did the state or federal authorities? WTF.