BARTOW - Staff for The Mosaic Company announced last week that they have found the source of a water seepage that dates back to Oct. 23 and that repairs will begin soon.
According to documents sent by Mosaic to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection staff, a dye test was performed to try and find the source of the liquid seepage.
Mosaic staff stopped transferring gypsum to the affected gypstack Jan. 5. Officials for the corporation say the gypstack remains structurally unaffected.
Within the documents, Mosaic staff detailed their findings.
“Based on the water quality and measured water levels in piezometers, the seepage is coming
from remnant water within the old gypsum below the gypstack liner,” read the findings. “As the gypstack ordinarily consolidates, remnant water is typically collected in the closed stack perimeter collection drain system. The seepage flow pattern changed due to additional hydraulic loading from rainfall and higher water levels in adjacent unlined treated water ponds which resulted in the formation of the surface seepage features."
Between December 2018 and mid-2019, four sets of cracks appeared near the peak of a Mosaic fertilizer manufacturing facility gypstack in Bartow. On Oct. 23, liquid started seeping from the ground, near the base of the same gypstack.
Though the seepage was classified as non-critical, it was nonetheless something staff wanted to resolve, as any uncertainty involving the company tends to raise anxiety recalling the 2016 incident that poured millions of gallons of contaminated water into the aquifer.
Compounding things for the corporation, market prices for phosphate have been on the decline and officials for Mosaic recently decided to temporarily stop manufacturing at the Bartow location until market prices rise.
Mosaic Phosphates Public and Government Affairs Director Callie Neslund said the 360 employees at the Bartow plant will not lose their jobs now that fertilizer production has temporarily gone idle. The employees will instead shift focus from production to maintenance at the plant, Neslund explained.