Amid wastewater overflow threat, Florida officials urge residents to heed evacuation orders

Katie Ramirez
April 6, 2021

That's what would happen within minutes if wall around the retention pond is fully breached, the acting county administrator said; as the Tampa Bay Times reports, efforts to fix the breach causing the leak have so far been unsuccessful.

"What we are looking at now is trying to prevent and respond to, if need be, a real catastrophic flood situation", DeSantis said during a press conference, after surveying the site by air.

Crews were working around the clock on Monday to prevent the collapse of a waste water reservoir's leaky containment wall near Tampa Bay, Florida, making steady progress after officials warned of an imminent threat of flooding over the weekend.

"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.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to convene an emergency meeting of the Florida Cabinet to discuss the evacuation of Manatee County residents and the environmental crisis at the Piney Point phosphate mine.

By Monday night, after additional pumps are brought online, that rate will "more than double" to about 75 million to 100 million gallons of water per day, according to Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes.

Situation Outside US Capitol in Wake of Deadly Vehicle Attack
The White House said that the president had been receiving updates about the incident as investigation progresses. Fortification of the Capitol was strengthened following the January 6 riot, but was recently eased.

At least 30 people had been evacuated to local hotels for shelter, Manatee County Public Safety Director Jacob Saur said on Sunday.

This aerial photo taken from an airplane shows a reservoir near the old Piney Point phosphate mine, Saturday, April 3, 2021 in Bradenton, Fla. It contains small amounts of naturally occurring radium and uranium, and the stacks can also release large concentrations of radon gas.

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

"This is not acceptable and it's not something we will allow to persist", he said, adding that he has ordered the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation to find a permanent fix at the site.

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.

A leak in the Piney Point reservoir was first reported late last month, sparking fears of a complete breach and possible upending of stacks of phosphogypsum, a radioactive waste product of fertilizer manufacturing. The water meets "water quality standards for marine waters with the exception of pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen and total ammonia nitrogen", according to the Florida DEP. State authorities say the water in the breached pond is not radioactive.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER