Florida governor declares state of emergency amid fears of reservoir collapse

Marco Green
Апреля 5, 2021

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

© Photograph: Tiffany Tompkins/AP The old Piney Point phosphate mine in Bradenton, Florida.

"We are closely monitoring the ongoing situation and are in close communication with Governor DeSantis' office, as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection", she said in an e-mail.

Officials are trying to prevent "a real catastrophic flood situation" by ensuring the quality of the stack system as quickly as possible, DeSantis told reporters during a press conference Sunday.

"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.

Engineers said the structure collapse could happen any time, which would flood the area - and Tampa Bay itself - with water that contains phosphorus and nitrogen from the phosphate plant.

"The water was tested prior to discharge [and] the primary concern is nutrients", he said.

"We're talking about the potential of about [480] million gallons, within a matter of seconds and minutes, leaving that retention pool and going around the surrounding area", Scott Hopes, the Manatee County Administrator, said Saturday.

"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.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron De Santis warns of flood threat Credit Chris O'Meara AP

In March, the county decided the best environmental option is to move the water from above ground to a deep water injection well 3000 feet below but that idea is still waiting for state approval and funding.

Florida officials are urging residents in the surrounding areas of a wastewater storage pond to heed evacuation orders ahead of a potential overflow of polluted water.

Officials widened the evacuation zone late on Saturday from a dozen or so properties to more than 300 houses.

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.

The water contains small amounts of naturally occurring radium and uranium, and the stacks can also release radon gas. The waste is stored in large piles, or stacks.

"Floridians were evacuated from their homes on Easter weekend".

Environmentalists are reportedly concerned a breach could kill fish, exacerbate red tide and lead to algae blooms.

When owners abandoned the Piney Point phosphate mine in 2001, they left behind an 800 million gallon problem. Pumping the entire pond would take 10 to 12 days.

Calls to the owner of the site, HRK Holdings, for comments went unanswered Saturday and Sunday.

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