State Of Emergency, Evacuations In Florida County Over Wastewater Pond Leak

State Of Emergency, Evacuations In Florida County Over Wastewater Pond Leak

The pond at the Piney Point phosphate plant in central Florida could potentially release 340 million gallons (1.3 billion liters) of toxic water within minutes, threatening nearby homes and causing a potential environmental crisis in the area.

Several residents in Manatee County were evacuated from their homes following the announcement that threatens massive loss of lives if the situation is not brought under control. Some families were placed in local hotels. A local jail in the area is not being evacuated but they are moving people and staff to the second story and putting sandbags on the ground floor.

It could take between 10 to 12 days for the situation to stabilize, Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said Saturday.

Ron DeSantis said crews were working to prevent the collapse of the reservoir while evacuating the area to avoid a "catastrophic flood".

The pond had begun leaking in March after which county officials began discharging water from it.

On Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis proclaimed a state of emergency in the county.

Part of the reservoir's retaining wall has shifted, raising the prospect of a complete structural collapse which would see 600 million gallons of water gushing into the surrounding area within minutes.

The water being discharged is mostly seawater from the Port Manatee dredge project, process water and storm water, officials said.

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The concerns for the quality of the water being discharged are now "less than the risk of everyone's health and safety" due to the potential for flooding, DeSantis said Sunday.

Meanwhile, authorities are working around the clock on Saturday to pump out as much water as possible to minimize the possibility of a flood. He added though, that "we are not out of the critical area yet".

National conservation group the Center for Biological Diversity also released a statement calling for the US Environmental Protection Agency to intervene.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein warned another pond has higher levels of metals.

"This is not acceptable and it's not something we will allow to persist", he said, adding that he has ordered the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation to find a permanent fix at the site. State authorities say the water in the breached pond is not radioactive.

The ponds are said to have been sitting in stacks of phosphogypsum, a solid radioactive byproduct from manufacturing fertilizer, as explained in Daily Kos.

Hopes said the plan is not to fix the damaged reservoir liner.

There are at least 70 gypsum stacks in the United States and about 27 in Florida, mostly in the region of west-central Florida.

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