Florida wastewater pond's 'imminent' overflow leads to evacuations and emergency order

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

"Evacuate area NOW. Collapse of Piney Point Stack Imminent!"

The water being discharged is mostly seawater from the Port Manatee dredge project, process water and storm water, officials said.

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

Since the initial discovery, the site has been leaking 22,000 gallons a minute, said acting County Administrator Scott Hopes. The water is slightly acidic but not to a concerning or toxic level, officials said.

In this photo released on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's Twitter account, DeSantis tours the area over Piney Point following an emergency declaration after a leaking toxic wastewater reservoir threatened nearby homes and an environmental disaster, near Tampa Bay, Fla., on April 4, 2021. "Evacuate area NOW. Collapse of Piney Point stack imminent!"

"The pond is basically salt water".

Another fear has been the water leaking or overflowing into Tampa Bay that is right next to it.

Bradenton Fla. Florida Gov. Ron De Santis declared a state of emergency Saturday after a significant leak at a large pond of was

"Looking at the water that has been removed and the somewhat stability of the current breach, I think the team is much more comfortable today than we were yesterday", he said.

Early Sunday, officials saw an increase of water leaking out, but Hopes says it seems to have plateaued. "So, again this is not water we want to see leaving the site", he said.

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

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. "We're down to about 340m gallons that could breach in totality in a period of minutes, and the models for less than an hour are as high as a 20ft wall of water." he said.

Phosphogypsum, the radioactive waste seeping from the site, is formed as a by-produce from fertilizer production, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

There are at least 70 gypsum stacks in the U.S. and about 27 in Florida, mostly in the region of west-central Florida.

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