Hundreds of Florida homes evacuated due to phosphate plant breach

Hundreds of Florida homes evacuated due to phosphate plant breach

Manatee County officials said earlier Sunday that the latest models showed that a breach at the old phosphate plant reservoir had the potential to gush out 340 million gallons of water in a matter of minutes, risking a 6-meter-high (about 20-foot) wall of water.

Florida officials are urging residents in the surrounding areas of a wastewater storage pond to heed evacuation orders ahead of a potential overflow of polluted water.

The Manatee County Public Safety Department said in an alert there is an "imminent threat" of uncontrolled release of wastewater from the former Piney Point phosphate processing plant in Palmetto.

Manatee County Sheriff's officials began evacuating about 345 inmates from a local jail about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) away from the 77-acre pond first floor on Sunday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Manatee County in Florida was under a state of emergency over the weekend and more than 300 homes were ordered evacuated over a leak at a wastewater reservoir. "The water meets water quality standards for marine waters with the exception primarily of the phosphorus and the nitrogen", DeSantis said.

On Sunday, Mr DeSantis said emergency workers - assisted by the Florida National Guard - were pumping water out of the pond at a rate of 33 million gallons a day.

"Federal officials need to clean up this mess the fertilizer industry has dumped on Florida communities and immediately halt further phosphogypsum production", Jaclyn Lopez, the organization's Florida director, said in a statement.

Hopes, the county administrator, said Sunday that with new state resources, crews will be almost doubling the amount of water being pumped out of the pond and taken to Port Manatee.

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Mask-wearing and other safety precautions should still be taken in airports and other public spaces, the guidelines read. Until Friday's announcement , federal officials were still discouraging people from traveling, even after vaccination .

Another fear has been the water leaking or overflowing into Tampa Bay that is right next to it.

"Due to a possible breach of mixed saltwater from the south reservoir at the Piney Point facility, I have declared a State of Emergency for Manatee County to ensure resources are allocated for necessary response & recovery", DeSantis wrote on Twitter.

The owner, HRK Holdings, did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Hopes said he hoped the emergency would inspire a permanent fix for phosphate stacks following decades of neglect.

Hopes said he could not rule out that a full breach could destabilize the walls of the other ponds at the Piney Point site.

In 2016, more than 200 million gallons of contaminated waste water from another fertiliser plant in central Florida leaked into one of the state's main aquifers after a massive sinkhole opened up in a pond of a phosphogypsum stack.

"The pond is basically salt water". Some algal blooms can also harm people who come into contact with polluted waters or eat tainted fish.

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