A sinkhole has opened up at a fertilizer plant in the US, causing about 980 million litres of radioactive water to leak into one of Florida’s main underground sources of drinking water.
The sinkhole, which is about 14 metres in diameter, collapsed beneath a pile of waste material called a “gypsum stack”.
Sitting on top of that stack was a storage pond containing phosphogypsum, which is a radioactive byproduct resulting from the production of phosphate.
Well, yes and no. The by product isn’t made radioactive by the process. You dig up the earth, take out the bit you want and what’s left over is radioactive. Because the original dirt is radioactive.
And it leaking into the ground water —- the radioactivity has been sitting there above the aquifer for a few million years now. The bits that are radioactive and water soluble have probably leached through anyway. And an aquifer also isn’t a big pool of water, it’s soused rock. Meaning that there’s rather a lot of filtration that goes on.
Can’t see it as being a major problem really. Except for the hysteria, obviously.
From memory the radioactivity is thorium and uranium. So, very akin to having a bit more granite around.