Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has declared a state of emergency as a reservoir holding back “millions of gallons of radioactive wastewater” is set for “imminent” collapse, according to Insider.
The leak was detected at an old phosphate plant pond, which is located near Tampa, on Friday. According to a Sunday report from CNN, such a leak could potentially “cause a collapse of phosphogypsum stacks, waste that is created during fertilizer production and phosphate rock mining.”
The old Piney Point phosphate mine “contains small amounts of radium and uranium.”
“State officials said they first discovered the leak on Friday,” the outlet reported. “It was located in one wall of the 77-acre pond that holds about 600 million gallons of water, containing phosphorous, nitrogen, and small amounts of radium and uranium.”
DeSantis urged residents living in close proximity to the reservoir to evacuate on Saturday, as a collapse was reportedly considered “imminent.”
According to CBS News, Manatee County Director of Public Safety Jake Saur said, “A portion of the containment wall at the leak site shifted laterally, signifying that structural collapse could occur at any time.”
Officials are reportedly most concerned about potential flooding, and said that the water is only “slightly acidic.”
“The water meets water quality standards for marine waters with the exception of pH, total phosphorous, total nitrogen, and total ammonia nitrogen. It is slightly acidic, but not at a level that is expected to be a concern, nor is it expected to be toxic.”
Insider reported that authorities worked around the clock on Saturday to pump out as much water as possible to mitigate the effects of a potential flood.
Manatee County Commissioner George Kruse said that he visited the plant on Saturday, but left almost immediately after seeing the hazard.
“We determined that it was no longer safe to be anywhere near Piney Point, so we all kind of raced off the stacks as fast as we could,” he told The Guardian in a statement on the disaster.
CBS News on Saturday tweeted, “TOXIC LEAK: Residents near Piney Point retention pond in Manatee County, Florida, were evacuated on Saturday as officials fear an ‘imminent’ collapse of a local wastewater reservoir contaminated with material that could be radioactive.”
TOXIC LEAK: Residents near Piney Point retention pond in Manatee County, Florida were evacuated on Saturday as officials fear an "imminent" collapse of a local wastewater reservoir contaminated with material that could be radioactive. https://t.co/phrXuNUqdg pic.twitter.com/dQ9RCkYYBA
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 4, 2021
Spectrum News on Sunday reported that engineering crews as well as state environment officials continue to work on the developing breach, and that U.S. 41 will be closed for Buckeye Road to Moccasin Wallow Road. Moccasin Wallow Road will also be closed west of 38th Avenue East in the area.
“This is nothing that should come as any surprise to officials that have been monitoring this phosphogypsum stack,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida Director of the Center for Biological Diversity said according to the outlet. “It has had a series and history of repeated leaks and breaches and discharges into Tampa Bay and this latest is the most alarming because it’s caused this public notice that’s forced the evacuation and the governor to declare a state of emergency.”
Author : Sarah Taylor