Florida's work crews were pumping millions of gallons of impure wastewater into an ecologically sensitive Florida bay on Sunday. They made efforts to alleviate the "imminent" collapse of an old phosphate mine's storage reservoir.
Florida is facing imminent pollution catastrophe
Manatee County officials have released evacuation orders for the area surrounding Florida's Piney Point. This serves as preparation of the imminent catastrophic collapse of a phosphogypsum stack retention pond holding up to 700 million gallons of wastewater. It has been recorded that 22,000 gallons per minute are being discharged from the holding pond to alleviate a failure of the radioactive phosphogypsum stack itself and the release of millions of gallons of wastewater.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday headed for the site of the defunct phosphate plant south of Tampa. A leak at a waste water reservoir forced the evacuation of numerous homes. It also threatened to flood the area and Tampa Bay with polluted water, reported Yahoo News.
Manatee county's officials extended an evacuation zone overnight. They also cautioned that up to 340m gallons could inundate the area in "a 20ft wall of water" if they could not repair the rupture at the Piney Point reservoir in the Tampa Bay area, Bradenton's north. Aerial photos aired on local television showed water pouring from leaks in the retention pond's walls, reported The Guardian.
Phosphogypsum is the contaminated waste from processing phosphate ore into phosphoric acid. This is predominantly used in fertilizer.
The week-old leak in the containment wall of the Piney Point waste water reservoir forced DeSantis to declare a state of emergency over concerns of the probable collapse of stacks of phosphogypsum waste. According to Jacob Sauer, director of public safety for Florida's Manatee County, "Structural collapse could occur at any time."
The governor toured the site by helicopter. He then stated at a press conference that engineers were still making efforts to plug breaches in the reservoir wall with rocks and other materials. Other mitigation efforts involved the controlled release of 35m gallons every day at Port Manatee.
According to Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity, "This environmental disaster is made worse by the fact it was entirely foreseeable and preventable. With 24 more phosphogypsum stacks storing more than 1 billion tons of this dangerous, radioactive waste in Florida, the EPA needs to step in right now," reported Center for Biological Diversity.
According to the Department of Environmental Protection Agency of Florida Secretary Noah Valenstein, the potential environmental catastrophe's primary threat is targeted at human health. Meanwhile, according to DeSantis, Florida's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had brought in 20 new pumps. He stated what they are looking at now is attempting to prevent and respond to, if necessary, an actual chaotic flood situation.
Justin Bloom, Suncoast Waterkeeper founder and board member, remarked the situation appears to be turning out to be the "horror" chapter of a long, devastating narrative of phosphate mining in Florida and beyond. They wish the contamination would not be as bad as they fear.