Florida declares state of emergency over toxic wastewater leak

Elias Hubbard
April 4, 2021

According to reports, the retention pond is connected to an old phosphate mine.

The state of emergency will ensure that more pumping equipment and cranes are dispatched to the affected area.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried urged the governor in a letter to convene an emergency session of the state cabinet to discuss a plan, adding that this property has seen similar leaks in the past. "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". (8 meter) deep pond.

"Collapse of Piney Point Stack Imminent!" an alert from county officials released at 11 a.m. Saturday said.

The evacuation order covers a half-mile radius south and a mile north of the abandoned Piney Point fertilizer plant wastewater holding reservoir, which could potentially dump hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater on the surrounding neighborhoods, FOX 13 of Tampa reported.

Hopes said crews worked overnight to "kind of plug a hole" using earth and rock to patch it up, but efforts were unsuccessful.

The pond where the leak was discovered is at the old Piney Point phosphate mine, sitting in a stack of phosphogypsum, a waste product from manufacturing fertiliser that is radioactive.

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

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. We saw ducks yesterday, there are snooks swimming in there.

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

According to the official, the wastewater contained in the other reservoirs would need to be treated to reduce ammonium content and other materials.

"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.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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