Waste water reservoir leak threatens Tampa, FL

Florida governor declares state of emergency amid fears of reservoir collapse

Florida governor declares state of emergency amid fears of reservoir collapse

Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in Manatee County on Saturday because of a leak at a wastewater storage pond, the collapse of which officials called "imminent".

The heightened threat forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes.

More than 300 homes were immediately evacuated with families placed in hotels, while 345 inmates from Manatee County Jail were moved to an undisclosed location.

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

Officials are rolling out a response plan that includes controlled discharges of mixed seawater into Port Manatee to relieve pressure and maintain the integrity of the stack system, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

According to Florida authorities, water at the Piney Point site is not radioactive, although it has high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen.

Crews have been releasing water since the pond started leaking this month. On Friday, a significant leak was detected.

Officials in Florida said in a statement that the primary concern from the collapse would be flooding.

When there is a surplus in phosphate level, the pond water loses clarity and turns out to be polluted by what's described as murky green overcast.

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Thousands of gallons per minute is currently being pumped out of the reservoir now to bring the volume of water down, while other workers have been charting the path to control the flow of the water.

But he also warned that "we are not out of the critical area yet".

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

Moreover, the water that is being discharged is "slightly acidic".

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 environmentalist group said that it was never designed for stacking and should have never been permitted.

The leaking pond sits in a stack of phosphogypsum, a waste product from manufacturing fertiliser, and contains "small amounts of naturally occurring radium and uranium". State authorities say the water in the breached pond is not radioactive. Specifically, he said, looking at the water that has been eliminated and somewhat stability of the present breach, he thinks the team is much more comfortable now than they were previously.

"For more than 50 years, this central Florida mining operation has caused numerous human health and environmental disasters and incidents", she wrote, adding there had been several earlier failures of the reservoir's lining.

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