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Drinking water safe but DEP faces criticism over sinkhole response

In late August the sinkhole opened up at Mosaic’s New Wales facility in Polk County. It happened in what’s known as a gypsum stack—a steadily growing hill of waste material left over from the fertilizer production process. Florida’s bedrock is porous, and over time those stacks can become too heavy for the limestone to support. Now Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Graham is taking aim at the Department’s response in the days immediately following the spill.

“I am very concerned that the first response to this was to not alert those that were closest to the sinkhole spill,” Graham says. “That should’ve been done immediately after Mosaic notified DEP.”

Grahams is considering running for governor in 2018, and her office filed a public records request shortly after the spill became public knowledge. Despite Mosaic notifying the department of the sinkhole on August 28, the first time it shows up in agency emails is September 15.

A request for an interview with a DEP spokesperson about the apparent gap in communication was not returned by this story’s deadline.