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A water spill at a Mosaic phosphate mine floods creek in southeast Hillsborough

About 6 million gallons of water was released after a pipe broke at Mosaic's Four Corners phosphate mine.

State environmental officials are investigating a recent water spill at an active phosphate mine in southeast Hillsborough County owned by The Mosaic Company. Part of the 6 million gallons of water released ended up in a nearby creek.

Mosaic reported that discharge from a pipe break at the Four Corners Mine happened Oct. 2.

The spill was water from a pipeline used for transferring sand to reclamation areas within the mine about 10 miles east of Sun City Center. About 6 million gallons of turbid water was sent to a ditch that leads into a waterway called Hurrah Creek.

Mosaic told investigators most of the sand — which contains particulates — had settled before the water discharged. Company spokeswoman Jackie Barron said by the time state regulators took water samples the afternoon of the spill, the water was back within permitted levels downstream of a turbidity barrier they installed.

This event was nothing like other spills at gypsum stacks, which contain toxic byproducts of phosphate mining. The state Department of Environmental Protection is investigating, and could assess fines and penalties.