Florida Wastewater Plant Leak 'Imminent' With Radioactive Water

Rodiano Bonacci
Aprile 4, 2021

This aerial photo taken from an airplane shows a reservoir near the old Piney Point phosphate mine.

By 6 p.m. EDT county officials expanded the evacuation zone to include an area with about 316 homes.

The initial evacuation zone included between 15 and 20 houses, and officials say all of them have been evacuated.

Attempts to plug the breach on Friday night with dirt and stone failed, Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said during a Saturday afternoon briefing, weather.com reported.

"I was actually out on the stack", Manatee County Commissioner George Kruse said Saturday in a Facebook video near the site.

"We are talking about the potential of about 600 million gallons (2.3 billion litres) within a matter of seconds and minutes, leaving that retention pool and going around the surrounding area", he said.

State resources are being deployed to the area, including pumps and machinery.

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

The Governor declared a state of emergency for Manatee County Saturday morning in response to the crisis.

"There have been numerous, well-documented failures - which continue today - of the property's reservoir liner, including leaks, poor welds, holes, cracks, and weaknesses that existed prior to purchase by the current owner, HRK Holdings, and exacerbated since", she writes.

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.

Those two ponds hold "waste that would be less conducive to life on land and. life in the sea", Hopes said, without elaborating on the specific waste material.

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".

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