Following a report from the Tampa Bay Times’ Craig Pittman regarding the sinkhole that opened up on Mosaic Fertilizer’s property in late 2016, the company sent out a scathing rebuke to media alleging Pittman “continues to provide a platform for false information.”
In the report, Pittman interviewed Don Rice, a former hydrologist from the U.S. Geological Survey, who alleges the company should have seen the signs of a sinkhole forming.
Jackie Barron, a Mosaic spokeswoman, said the claims made in Pittman’s article are “fundamentally wrong.”
“The water level increases cited in his article were observed in a location that is in no way related to the recent sinkhole at Mosaic’s New Wales facility,” Barron wrote in a memo to media.
The company is also taking issue with the newspaper’s failure to check the facts before reporting.
“Responsible journalists check facts from multiple sources to get to the truth before they accuse a company of negligence,” said the memo. “That did not happen here.”
In a separate release, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection claims allegations by Rice are wrong because they reference a section of Mosaic’s property where a sinkhole did not form.
“This is false because the data they are referring to is from the North stack,” the release said, “which while continuously monitored and intact, has been closed and non-operational for nearly 12 years.”
The DEP also takes issue with the Times’ failure to disclose the data used by Rice as the basis for his allegations.
“After multiple requests for the Tampa Bay Times’ reporter to provide the data being referenced, DEP was pointed to one chart on Page 5 of a July 2016 monitoring report, which DEP had reviewed and posted online Aug. 11, 2016,” the statement said. “DEP has posted monitoring reports for the two stacks, North and South, at the Mosaic New Wales facility dating back to 1994, and these reports have been available online since 2013.”
Last week, Mosaic employees began work filling the sinkhole. As part of the effort, Mosaic employees plan to work 24 hours per day with a six-day workweek.
Mosaic estimates the sinkhole will be filled by the rainy season.