Sinkhole leak concerns neighbors about contaminated water
The first wave of test results around the Mosaic sinkhole show normal readings, but neighbors aren't convinced. (KTRK)
Updated 1 hr 34 mins ago
POLK COUNTY, FL (KTRK) -- People who live near a sinkhole in Florida, still aren't sure whether their water is safe to drink.
The sinkhole at a Mosaic fertilizer plant poured more than 200-million gallons of contaminated, radioactive water into the aquifer.
The first wave of test results from private wells around the sinkhole show normal readings, according to Environmental Consulting and Technology, the company hired by Mosaic to test the drinking water nearby "out of an abundance of caution."
More than 70 homeowners have contacted Mosaic requesting a free water test. Wednesday afternoon, ECT received the results from nine wells that it tested on Monday.
The results showed average readings in Polk County for sodium and sulfate, the two minerals the company is focused on most.
Some people who spoke who live in the "priority one zone", the area just west of the sinkhole, still have their doubts.
"I just don't believe it. I really don't believe it," said Heather George, who lives a few miles from the site.
"I feel like they are probably paying those people off," George said.
To her, and several others within a few miles of the massive crater, Mosaic shattered its credibility when it decided to keep the radioactive problem to itself for weeks.
Mosaic executives apologized Tuesday and tried to make things right, hiring ECT to test wells and providing bottled water in the meantime.
Gary Uebelhoer, representative for ECT, said in an interview Wednesday that fudging the numbers to benefit Mosaic would cost them their license and it's not worth it.
"We would not do anything to risk the integrity of our business," he said.
Mosaic said anyone who wishes to have a different company come test their wells can contact the Florida DEP, the same agency now under fire for its handling of the sinkhole.
For two days now, a spokesperson refuses to answer basic questions like why did the DEP wait three weeks to alert the public?
"Everybody is nervous and wants to get answers. Everything was hidden and kept from us and everyone wants the answers," said Rick Beeman, who also lives a couple miles from the site.
Beeman hopes to get on the list of now more than 70 people requesting a free water test from Mosaic.
He and his wife have been trying since late last week.
"I have not received an answer back yet. My wife has called twice and I've called once," he said.
A Mosaic spokesperson said they have a room full of people taking calls from those concerned in the area. The turnaround time is about 12-hours.
ECT expects to process another 11 results on Thursday.