Florida Reservoir Emergency Threatens '20-Foot Wall of Water'

MIAMI GARDENS FLORIDA- JANUARY 06 Florida Governor Ron De Santis speaks during a press conference about the opening of a COVID-19 vaccination site at the Hard Rock Stadium

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. That's what would happen within minutes if wall around the retention pond is fully breached, the acting county administrator said; as the Tampa Bay Times reports, efforts to fix the breach causing the leak have so far been unsuccessful.

"What we are looking at now is trying to prevent and respond to, if need be, a real catastrophic flood situation", DeSantis said during a press conference, after surveying the site by air.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Sunday headed for the site of a defunct phosphate plant south of Tampa, where a leak at a waste water reservoir forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes and threatened to flood the area and Tampa Bay with polluted water.

According to Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes, with new resources of the state, crews will be nearly doubling the amount of water being released from the pond and taken to Port Manatee.

"A portion of the containment wall at the leak site shifted laterally", said Manatee Director of Public Safety Jake Saur, "signifying that structural collapse could occur at any time".

The pond had begun leaking in March after which county officials began discharging water from it. "The water meets water quality standards for marine waters with the exception primarily of the phosphorus and the nitrogen", DeSantis said.

To date, roughly 22,000 gallons of water are being pumped out of the pond every minute, and according to Hopes, he is expecting the danger of collapse to decline by Tuesday. The water running out on its own is flowing to a creek that leads to Cockroach Bay, an aquatic preserve in the Tampa Bay north of the facility. "We are not out of the critical area yet".

Bradenton Fla. Florida Gov. Ron De Santis declared a state of emergency Saturday after a significant leak at a large pond of was
Toxic 'wall of water' threatens city

"We're not talking about anything with radiation or high levels of heavy metals", he said.

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

Mr DeSantis denied that the water was radioactive. Instead, "we will be depleting the holding ponds of their water, and then we will be moving forward to a permanent solution into the future", he said. Depending on the environmental factors surrounding the ponds such as fertilizer runoff and rainfall, among others, this nutrient's levels can vary.

Officials said the federal Environmental Protection Agency is sending a representative to be at the command center in Manatee County.

The pond where the leak was discovered contains stacks of phosphogypsum, a radioactive byproduct from manufacturing fertilizer, according to the Associated Press. "The State is committed to holding HRK and all involved parties accountable".

"We hope the contamination is not as bad as we fear", said Justin Bloom of the group, Suncoast Waterkeeper.

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