Gov. Rick Scott tours Mosaic sinkhole site

Aaron Mesmer reports

- Gov. Rick Scott got his first look Tuesday at the massive sinkhole at Mosaic's phosphate manufacturing plant that caused radioactive water to pour into the Floridian Aquifer.

The governor, who was accompanied by Jonathon Steverson, Secretary of the Department of Environmental  Protection, took a helicopter flight over the 45-foot-wide sinkhole.

Hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water have gushed into the aquifer since the crater opened under a gypsum stack in late August. The company notified the DEP immediately, but waited two weeks to tell the public because, by law, notification is only required if the incident causes a public health risk; Mosaic has said none of the radioactive water flowed beyond the company's  property and has posed to threat to drinking water.

"If anybody has done anything wrong, we're going to hold them accountable," Gov. Scott said following  his tour.

A day earlier, Scott issued an emergency order requiring public notification of a pollution event within 24 hours and said he will urge legislators to make the rule permanent.

"The DEP followed the existing law," Scott said, defending the agency's response. "The bottom line is  the law is outdated. There should have been public notification."

This marked a change from four days ago, when the governor was elusive in answering many of the same  questions, and didn't indicate whether he planned to make any changes.

One thing that remained consistent, however, is Scott's refusal to say whether the DEP failed its moral obligation to notify the public about the leak, reitering his previous answer that, "The DEP followed the existing law. The law is outdated."

Scott also saw no need to an apologize on behalf of the DEP. Dave Jellerson, a Mosaic executive, did so again Tuesday afternoon.

"I can assure you that we've learned our lesson in this case as far as the bredth of our  notifications," he said following the governor's tour.

Jellerson went on to say, while the hole is not growing, it appears to be at least 700 feet deep -- more than twice what officials initially thought.

An independent company hired by Mosaic continues to test well water around the plant. More than 600 tests have been scheduled and the first round of results expected to come back within a week.

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