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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hillary Clinton: Mosaic must be held accountable for sinkhole spill

22

September

The spill of 215 million gallons of contaminated water into a sinkhole at a Mosaic phosphate plant in Mulberry is hardly typical fare for a nationwide presidential campaign.

But with Florida a key battleground state, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has added her voice to those criticizing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Mosaic for failing to notify the public about the recent spill.

In an interview with WFTS during her Wednesday campaign stop in Orlando, Clinton said Mosaic must be held accountable for the spill and be required to clean up the contamination.

“I think what happened as I understand it about Mosaic was terribly risky and posed serious threats to the aquifer and clean water,” Clinton said. “It went on for weeks without there being any kind of announcement.”

Mosaic workers discovered the spill Aug. 27 and informed the DEP and U.S. Environmental Protection agency one day later.

But it was only after the spill was reported in the media three weeks later that neighbors of the plant, many of whom use well water, learned of the spill. The water that drained into the hole is acidic and includes sulphur and sodium.

State law does not require the DEP to inform the public about a spill into the aquifer if it has not spread offsite. Mosaic officials say that is the case with the sinkhole spill. 

The DEP has since announced it is coordinating with Mosaic for water quality tests on wells on neighboring properties. Mosaic has publicly apologized for the delay in informing the public.

Clinton’s comments come one day after U.S Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee, blasted the DEP for keeping the spill quiet.

Here’s the full transcript of Clinton’s comments on the sinkhole:

"I think what happened as I understand it about Mosaic was terribly risky and posed serious threats to the aquifer and clean water. And people didn't know about it. It went on for weeks without there being any kind of announcement. They should be held accountable. They should be required to do everything that they should have to do to clean this up, to clean the water to make sure that it is safe.

For goodness sake, people are entitled to clean water. People are entitled to know what is in their water and companies that profit off of common resources need to be held liable when something goes wrong. So I have a very clear view about this: polluters should pay to clean up the messes that they have created."

Mosaic has indicated that it will clean up the spill and is pumping contaminated wastewater out of the aquifer. The cost to remediate the site could be as much as $20 million.

Gov. Rick Scott's Communications Director Jackie Schutz said Wednesday the governor has directed the DEP to expedite their investigation of the spill and asked the Florida Department of Health to work with DEP to ensure drinking water is safe. 

"We know Mosaic has taken responsibility, but our job is to ensure 100 percent safe drinking water in Florida and to protect our pristine environment," Schutz said. "We will continue to expedite this process until all questions are answered."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2016 2:34pm]

    

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