MULBERRY (FOX 13) - With signs held high and bottled water nearby, protesters in Mulberry had a clear message for Mosaic and government officials on Saturday.
"The fact that it was three weeks ago that they found out and are just now telling us: that is not OK," said Jessica Broadbent, who organized the Saturday protest just outside Mulberry's City Hall. "This hush-hush stuff doesn't fly. The public wants to be informed."
On Friday Department of Environmental Protection and Mosaic officials admitted they discovered the massive sink hole that sent 215 million gallons of compromised water into the floridan aquifer on August 27, but didn't feel the threat was big enough to warrant going public.
"We know that the contamination has not migrated beyond the area of the immediate water loss incident so there's not an immediate urgency," Mosaic spokesman David Jellerson told FOX 13 on Friday.
Both the DEC and Mosaic claim the highly acidic water has been contained to Mosaic's site, but many neighbors in Mulberry aren't buying it.
"It's a slap in the face. Why would I trust you?" asked Broadbent. "You have lied to us and misled us and not informed the public, the community, of what's going on."
Mosaic has offered to test the wells of anyone in the area upon request, but neighbors like Broadbent, say they neither trust Mosaic, nor any company nor any company hired by Mosaic, to accurately test for safety.
"We want independent companies who are not financially tied to mosaic to test," said Broadbent.
Melissa Anderson lives a few miles from Mosaic's New Wales facility and says she definitely plans to have her well water tested.
"Absolutely but not by Mosaic, because they're going to tell us what we want to hear: that everything's ok."
The Polk County Department of Health will test public and private drinking water systems upon request. The service is available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Friday at the Bartow Environmental Health & Engineering facility located at 2090 E. Clower St., Bartow, FL. 33830. Contact the facility at (863) 519-8330.