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Acidic spill won't threaten waterways

A 4-million-gallon spill of acidic water at Cargill Crop Nutrition's Bartow fertilizer plant was contained well short of any public waterway, the company said Tuesday.

The accident happened over the weekend after Hurricane Jeanne dumped about 12 inches of rain on the plant, said Gray Gordon, a company spokesman.

He said the rain caused an overflow in a system that carries slightly acidic water from a nearby gypsum stackThe overflow spilled into a stormwater sewer and onto some old phosphate mine land around the plant.

Cargill workers built dams around the spill and neutralized the water with an alkaline chemical, said Debbie Burdette, a Cargill spokeswoman.

Tests done Tuesday within 2{ miles of the plant showed no acidic water remaining, she said. The Peace River, the nearest waterway, is another 5 miles from that point.

Russell Schweiss, a Florida Department of Environmental Protection spokesman, agreed there was no environmental damage.

After a 70-million-gallon spill three weeks earlier at Cargill's Riverview plant, DEP ordered companies to draw down levels of acidic water at seven gypsum stacks.

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