Florida Reservoir Emergency Threatens '20-Foot Wall of Water'

Ruben Hill
April 5, 2021

Manatee County officials said in an emergency alert sent to area residents late on Saturday. The breach threatens the county with millions of gallons of polluted water flooding neighborhoods and into Tampa Bay.

After the threat is mitigated, the wall will not be repaired, and all of the holding ponds on the property will be drained of water and likely filled, Hopes said during the press conference on Sunday.

Now about 22,000 gallons of water are being discharged per minute, and Hopes said he expects the risk of collapse to decrease by Tuesday. That discovery escalated the response and prompted the first evacuations and a declaration of a state of emergency on Saturday.

"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. Now about 22,000 gallons of water are being discharged per minute, and Hopes said he expects the risk of collapse to decrease by Tuesday.

A worst-case scenario could see a 20-foot wall of polluted water emerge from the leaking site, the Bradenton Herald reported. The water running out on its own is flowing to a creek that leads to Cockroach Bay, an aquatic preserve in the Tampa Bay north of the facility. Instead, "we will be depleting the holding ponds of their water, and then we will be moving forward to a permanent solution into the future", he said.

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

The agency noted it could not rule out that a full breach could destabilize the walls of other ponds, some containing higher levels of toxic materials, at the Piney Point site. "So, again this is not water we want to see leaving the site", he said. "We can take care of nutrients in the environment ..."

The department said the discharge water meets "water quality standards for marine waters with the exception of pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen and total ammonia nitrogen".

"With 24 more phosphogypsum stacks storing more than one billion tons of this unsafe, radioactive waste in Florida, the EPA needs to step in right now".

"The pond is basically salt water".

But the EPA says too much nitrogen in the wastewater causes algae to grow faster, leading to fish kills. "Federal officials need to clean up this mess the fertilizer industry has dumped on Florida communities and immediately halt further phosphogypsum production".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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