State of emergency over Florida toxic water leak

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

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

This aerial photo taken from an airplane shows a reservoir near the old Piney Point phosphate mine.

Attempts to fix the leak late on Friday, by plugging the hole with rocks and other materials, were unsuccessful.

"I was actually out on the stack", Manatee County Commissioner George Kruse said Saturday in a Facebook video near the site.

State resources are being deployed to the area, including pumps and machinery.

Water flows from a tube.

Manatee County, the state and HRK Holdings, who now owns the property, have worked for years in finding a solution.

There have been attempts to plug the reservoir - which contains phosphogypsum, a radioactive waste formed from fertilizer made from phosphate rock - with dirt and stones, but they have been unsuccessful.

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The water contains small amounts of naturally occurring radium and uranium, and the stacks can also release radon gas.

"The pond is basically salt water. It's sustaining wildlife. That's not the case for the other two pools", he said, adding the wastewater in the other ponds would need to be treated to reduce ammonium content and other materials.

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

"The immediate evacuation of residents, disruption of families during Easter weekend, and potential environmental catastrophe requires the attention and action of Florida's statewide elected leadership", Fried said.

A state of emergency has been declared and an evacuation order has been issued for the area a half-mile radius south and a mile north of the abandoned Piney Point plant, ABC affiliated WFLA in Tampa reported.

"For more than fifty years, this Central Florida mining operation has caused numerous human health and environmental disasters and incidents, including evacuations from sulfuric acid leaks, deaths of multiple employees, the release of more than 1 billion gallons of contaminated wastewater, and ongoing, regular gypsum stack and reservoir leaks from poor construction and maintenance that released heavy metals and pollutants into the region's water and soil", Fried writes.

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