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Hillary Clinton blasts Mosaic for delaying notifying residents about sinkhole spill

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Hillary Clinton is weighing in on Mosaic’s delay in informing the public about the spill of 215 million gallons of contaminated water into a sinkhole at their Polk County phosphate plant last month.

In an interview with WFST-Channel 28’s Sarina Fazan, the Democratic presidential nominee is chiming in on the criticism regarding the phosphate giant’s failure to inform the public about the spill, which happened last month. Though Mosaic did inform local and state agencies, many members of the public never heard about it until they saw news reports last weekend.

“I think what happened as I understand it about Mosaic was terribly risky and posed serious threats to the aquifer and clean water,” the former first lady said in an interview recorded on Wednesday before her appearance in Orlando. “And people didn’t know about it. It went on for weeks without there being any kind of announcement. They should be held accountable.”

Mosaic officials apologized Tuesday during a Polk County Commission meeting for not notifying the public sooner about its sinkhole and leak of radioactive waste water.

Other officials are questioning why the DEP wasn’t more forthright about the leak, after Mosaic officials contacted them immediately after the incident. State law does not require the DEP to inform the public about a spill into the aquifer if it has not spread offsite. DEP officials have not said when they first learned of the leak, but have said that they did contact local residents after learning about it.

Tallahassee Democratic Representative Gwen Graham blasted the DEP on Wednesday, saying that the agency failed to alert surrounding communities of a toxic sinkhole, and calling on the DEP to use all means available to protect Florida families and the environment from a potential health crisis.

“For goodness sake, people are entitled to clean water,” Clinton continued in the WFTS interview. “People are entitled to know what is in their water and companies that profit off of common resources need to be held liable when something goes wrong. So I have a very clear view about this: polluters should pay to clean up the messes that they have created.”
“Hillary Clinton believes clean water is a basic right–and in Florida, that means protecting our aquifer. It’s very disturbing that neither Mosaic or the state Department of Environmental Protection felt the need to notify homeowners that massive amounts of contaminated water had been dumped into Florida’s aquifer until three weeks after a sinkhole opened under a containment pond in Mulberry,” said Simone Ward, Florida State Director for Hillary for America. “Given the fact that hundreds of thousands of gallons of contaminated water have already entered the aquifer–and more toxins will enter every time it rains until the sinkhole is filled–it’s incumbent upon Mosaic and the DEP to be prompt and transparent in sharing information with Floridians about the extent of the contamination and any possible health risks.”
“Governor Scott will hold all responsible parties accountable for their actions and has directed the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to expedite their investigation which began almost a month ago (August 29th),” said Jackie Schutz, Governor Rick Scott’s communications director. This includes directing DEP to expedite all water quality tests to ensure safe drinking water for residents. Governor Scott has also directed the Department of Health to partner with DEP in their investigation to ensure all drinking water in the area is safe. We know Mosaic has taken responsibility, but our job is to ensure 100 percent safe drinking water in Florida and to protect our pristine environment. We will continue to expedite this process until all questions are answered. We encourage lawmakers and others to make decisions on this issue based on facts and not on their own political interests.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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