Florida declares emergency evacuation after leak at wastewater pond

Leak of radioactive wastewater plant in Florida 'imminent': officials

A state of emergency has been declared in Florida after a leak from a large pond of toxic wastewater in Tampa Bay.

This photo taken by a drone shows the old Piney Point phosphate mine, Saturday, April 3, 2021 in Bradenton, Fla.

County officials said a breach was detected Friday in one of the walls of the pond that holds about 800 million gallons of water containing phosphorus and nitrogen from an old phosphate plant, according to The Associated Press.

By 6 p.m. EDT county officials expanded the evacuation zone to include an area with about 316 homes.

On Friday, crews worked overnight in an attempt to fix the leak, but those attempts were unsuccessful, Sauer said.

"We're talking about the potential of about (480) million gallons, within a matter of seconds and minutes, leaving that retention pool and going around the surrounding area", said Scott Hopes, the Manatee County Administrator. DeSantis' declaration of a state of emergency allocates more pumps and cranes to the area.

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"There have been numerous, well-documented failures - which continue today - of the property's reservoir liner, including leaks, poor welds, holes, cracks, and weaknesses that existed prior to purchase by the current owner, HRK Holdings, and exacerbated since", she writes.

The pond where the leak was discovered is at the old Piney Point phosphate mine, sitting in a stack of phosphogypsum, a waste product from manufacturing fertiliser that is radioactive.

Mitigation efforts have prevented a full breach but the situation was constantly changing, emergency officials said.

Florida's Manatee County Public Safety Department has declared a state of emergency and ordered a complete evacuation of the Piney Point reservoir site and surrounding areas due a leak that could cause a collapse of phosphogypsum stacks, waste that is created during fertilizer production and phosphate rock mining.

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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