W&L Files Lawsuit Over Contamination Of Florida Aquifer

Weitz & Luxenberg has filed a federal class action lawsuit in Florida over the contamination of the Floridan aquifer with the radioactive waste product phosphogypsum. The contamination occurred after a sinkhole opened underneath a “gypsum stack” used to store toxic waste material at Mosaic Company’s New Wales phosphate fertilizer plant in Mulberry, Florida.

“This company showed disregard for the proper safety and management relative to storing radioactive wastewater on their property,” said Robin Greenwald, head of the Environmental and Consumer Protection Unit at Weitz & Luxenberg. “This lawsuit seeks injunctive and punitive relief for victims, and also to ensure that Mosaic and other corporations think twice about the proper storage of hazardous wastewater in the future.”

Radioactive Wastewater Stored On Top Of Massive Aquifer

On August 27, a sinkhole was discovered at Mosaic’s phosphate fertilizer plant in Mulberry after water levels dropped in a stack of phosphogypsum, a waste product resulting from the processing of phosphate to make fertilizers. The sinkhole led to the contamination of the Floridan Aquifer with at least 215 million gallons of contaminated water, according to company officials. Officials have also said it could be months before the hole is plugged.

The Floridan Aquifer system provides drinking water to millions of Florida residents, and water that escapes from the aquifers creates springs used for recreational activities like snorkeling and swimming.

The lawsuit, which Weitz & Luxenberg filed in partnership with the law firm Morgan & Morgan, alleges that Mosaic engaged in “abnormally dangerous activities” when handling and storing wastewater at the New Wales Facility, creating a high degree of risk of harm to those who rely on fresh water from the aquifer.

Company Didn’t Notify Public For Weeks

Despite the wide use of water retrieved from this aquifer, it wasn’t until three weeks after the leak was discovered that Mosaic notified the public.

“This situation is a textbook example of how the careless actions of one company can impact the lives of thousands,” said consumer advocate Erin Brockovich, a consultant to Weitz & Luxenberg. “This company acted with extreme disregard for public health, and now it needs to take responsibility for the damage it has caused.”

Greenwald is leading the team of Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys managing the case, which also includes Pearl A. Robertson, an Associate Attorney in the Environmental and Consumer Protection Unit. Attorneys from Morgan & Morgan on the case include Mike Morgan, John A. Yanchunis, Frank M. Petosa, Scott W. Weinstein, Rene F. Rocha III and Marcio W. Valladares.

Weitz & Luxenberg has either filed complaints or is investigating water issues in seven other areas, including: Flint, MI; Hoosick Falls, NY; Petersburgh, NY; Newburgh, NY; North Bennington, VT; Merrimack, NH; and Bucks and Montgomery Counties, PA.

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