Friday's letters: Mosaic is sorry for the spill

Published Sept. 22, 2016

Mosaic regretful over leak response | Sept. 21

We regret not notifying people sooner

Earlier this week, I addressed Polk County commissioners on the recent sinkhole and water loss incident at our New Wales production facility, and believe the updates and sentiments I shared are pertinent to the entire West-Central Florida community.

On behalf of Mosaic, I would like to express our sincere regret that the sinkhole and loss of water have caused concerns for the community. We live and work here too, and take our responsibility to protect the public and environment very seriously.

The health and safety of our 4,000 employees and local communities is paramount. When we realized we had major water loss at the gypsum stack on Aug. 28, we quickly notified the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Polk County.

Using test wells surrounding our facility, we immediately increased monitoring and took steps to remove as much water as possible from the leaking process pond. On Sept. 6, water dramatically receded, exposing the sinkhole. We are committed to recovering this water from the aquifer, and preventing offsite impacts. To date, we have seen no such impacts.

We are working around the clock. DEP is being updated daily and its representatives have been on site regularly, providing diligent oversight and assistance.

Understandably some of our neighbors are concerned about water coming from their wells. We are paying the cost of testing their wells, as well as providing bottled water to allay their concerns until their well tests are complete. We want our neighbors to not just be safe, but to have peace of mind.

We realize we could have done a better job providing timely information to our neighbors and the broader community. I regret and apologize for not providing information sooner, and am committed to providing regular updates to the public as we move forward.

Walt Precourt, Lithia

The writer is senior vice president of Mosaic's Phosphates Business Unit.

Election 2016

Don't sit this one out

I hear more and more people say they will sit out the 2016 presidential election. This choice enables a minority of voters to determine the results. It is crucial for all eligible voters to cast ballots so our democracy can work. Let's not have a repeat of the 2000 election, which was so close that it was decided by the Supreme Court.

Margaret Zabor, Temple Terrace

Fallout builds over sewage | Sept. 22

Another kind of cleanup

I choked on my tea this morning, thanks to Gov. Rick Scott's latest "pardon me, while I remake my image" line: "We must do all we can to protect our environment." This from a governor who has appointed political hacks to water boards throughout the state, fostering a give-them-anything-they-want attitude toward business. He has decimated funding intended to clean up springs. He has caved again and again to fertilizer and sugar interests, never pushing implement the constitutional amendment aimed at the environment. He has slashed funding to state agencies dealing with environmental affairs, and time after time has pushed his monomaniacal jobs fixation at the expense of sound development principles. The first part of his quote is missing only three words: "Florida (used to be) known for our pristine environment."

Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg

Doctors should send refunds as fast as bills | Column, Sept. 22

Overcharging patients

John Romano's column on doctors' refunds exposed a systemic problem I have referred to as "profitable mismanagement" in the medical billing services. This is no accident or simple billing error; my own experience with 37 surgeries has proven medical professionals routinely overcharge patents. From charging the wrong co-pay or deductible, charging for services already paid for or changing the fee after the fact, I have seen it all, and it always is an error in their favor. Every patient should rigorously inspect any bill and question every charge.

Brian Valsavage, St. Petersburg

Ferry service plan detailed | Sept. 22

Ferry me where, exactly?

Why? Why would I want to ferry to Tampa, and end up there with no transportation to go and do as I please? Back in the day, there was ferry service from St. Petersburg to the other end of what is now the Sunshine Skyway. But you took your car. This was a necessity then as there was no bridge at the time. I see no need to spend any of my tax dollars on such a project. If you just want to cruise the area waters, there are many other ways to do this. Better to spend the money on fixing the sewer systems, keeping our waters safe and clean to enjoy. Someone needs to get their priorities straight.

Judy Lavaron, St. Petersburg

Too much secrecy about public health risks | Editorial, Sept. 20

Don't forget Big Sugar

Your recent editorials about various risks to public health from wastewater discharges in the Tampa Bay area, the massive Mosaic sinkhole and the Zika problems left out the contamination in South Florida from the Big Sugar industry and its discharges in and around Lake Okeechobee.

Local and state government have had a propensity to risk public health and the natural resources of Florida to accommodate big business for obvious political support. The Florida aquifer is the main source of the state's water supply and is supposed to be protected by the state via the five regional agencies directed by state law to preserve and protect the state's water supply.

These agencies are run by political appointees. It's time for the public, by direct vote, to have a say in who manages the state's precious resources because its obvious that from the above issues that politics needs to be out of the equation.

Ronald Matte, Land O' Lakes