A giant sinkhole in Florida has reportedly leaked gallons of polluted water into the state's main potable water aquifer, leaving nearby residents concerned about its safety.

The leak occurred at a plant by fertilizer company Mosaic in Polk County, Central Florida, according to a report by member station WUSF. The Minnesota-based company has hired a third-party firm to conduct tests at the site.

Giant Sinkhole Leak

In August, the 45-foot-wide sinkhole opened up at the Mosaic Co. plant under a pile of hazardous waste, The Tampa Bay Times reported.

An employee of Mosaic found the water loss caused by the leak on Aug. 27. The next day, the state notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said David Jellerson, the senior director for environmental and phosphate projects at Mosaic.

The sinkhole reportedly poured out more than 200 million gallons of acidic water laced with sodium and sulfate from a pool on top of a 120-foot gypsum stack, investigations revealed.

Furthermore, an unknown quantity of gypsum also fell into the 300-feet-deep sinkhole, although the sinkhole could be much deeper than that, reports said. Gypsum, which contains low levels of radiation, is a fertilizer byproduct.

On Thursday, Sept. 29, Mosaic spokesperson Jackie Barron said the sulphates and acidity were discovered in a recovery well that is typically used to pull water out within a quarter mile of the giant sinkhole.

Prior to that, Barron said the contamination was detected only at the recovery well, and that no contamination had been found in the monitoring wells beyond the company's property or anywhere farther than the hole.

Worried Residents

The Aug. 27 leak supposedly stayed under the wraps for a while before homeowners near the New Wales plant was notified about it on Sept. 19 when reports broke out, according to ABC News.

Only then did the company give residents bottled water. By that time, a huge wastewater pond had disappeared through the hole in the pile of phosphogypsum.

Phosphogypsum is the byproduct that forms when phosphate ore is processed into fertilizer with sulfuric acid.

Because the material is radioactive, it cannot be reused, but the wastewater involved is stored in the pond on top of piles.

Mosaic is advising residents not to drink their well water, said Courtney Tinsley who lives less than 2 miles away from the plant. But Tinsley is worried about its safety.

"I said 'If we can't drink it, we shouldn't be bathing in it too," said Tinsley.

Partial Results Of The Tests

According to Mosaic, initial results of the tests were released to residents on Tuesday. The tests have revealed results that are "within normal drinking standards," the company said.

"[T]here have been no offsite impacts as a result of this incident," Mosaic added.

In the meantime, the company is offering free bottled waters on request to residents until testing is complete.

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