Democratic Florida Senate candidate Linda Stewart Monday blasted Mosaic and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for their delayed responses to the massive Polk County sinkhole that drained fertilizer byproduct runoff into the aquifer.

Stewart, running against Republican nominee Dean Asher in Florida Senate District 13, based in Orlando, said the company’s and the state’s delays in informing the public and offering assistance increased the risks “with each passing day.”

On Aug. 27 a massive sinkhole opened up on the Mosaic property, draining a retention basin containing hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water from the fertilizer processing operations there, with the potential that it could reach the drinking water aquifer. But there was no public notification for another three weeks.

Stewart, a longtime environmentally-active politician in Orange County, said people still await answers regarding the amount of environmental damage, and why the public notification took so long.

“Every Floridian has the right to clean drinking water and for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Mosaic to wait more than three weeks to inform potentially affected residents is completely unacceptable,” Stewart said in a statement issued Monday.. “Why were the residents not immediately notified that they could potentially be drinking poisonous water?

She called the company’s offers of free well-water tests and free drinking water to the community “a nice gesture” but too late.

“The DEP and Mosaic must swiftly develop short and long-term cleanup plans that take into account potential metals imbedded in limestone and the possible spread of contaminated water further within the aquifer,” Stewart said. “With each passing day and every drop of rain that falls, the risks from this environmental disaster grow larger. Floridians deserve answers now how we solve this current crisis and how we prevent this from happening again in the future.”

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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