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

Gov. Ron De Santis inspects a failing phosphogypsum storage site near Tampa Bay

Gov. Ron De Santis inspects a failing phosphogypsum storage site near Tampa Bay

Residents within a 1-mile radius of the plant were ordered to evacuate, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Saturday in Manatee County as well as neighboring Hillsborough and Pinellas counties over the threat.

Officials had warned about the potential for the reservoir's collapse, flooding nearby areas. He said the county's original plan - moving all the inmates to the second floor - would be too much of a security risk, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said it could take between 10 to 12 days for the situation to stabilize, according to ABC affiliate WJXX.

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.

The Manatee County Central Jail is at the corner of an evacuation zone surrounding the old Piney Point phosphate mine, where about 300 million gallons of wastewater is threatening to breach a reservoir there and flood the surrounding area.

County and state officials are now working to pump water out of the reservoir to reduce the quantity in the event of a breach.

Parts of US-41 have also been closed due to the breach.

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DeSantis insisted the water being discharged has tested as not radioactive, a common byproduct of the phosphate mining process, but rather comprises a mix of saltwater, mining "legacy process water", and stormwater runoff.

"Water quality issues that are flowing from this, for us, is less than the risk of everyone's health and safety, particularly folks who may live in the area", DeSantis noted.

Early Sunday, officials saw an increase in the water leaking out, but Hopes says it seems to have plateaued. "It is slightly acidic, but not at a level that is expected to be a concern".

"Evacuate area NOW. Collapse of Piney Point stack imminent!"

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

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a coordinator on the scene to work with emergency management and provide support as necessary, said EPA spokeswoman Brandi Jenkins.

The pond where the leak was found is in a stack of phosphogypsum, a radioactive waste product from the manufacture of fertiliser.

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