Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Saturday in the city of Tampa, about 450 km northwest of Miami, due to a major spill in a huge sewage pond that threatens to flood roads. and bursting a contaminated water storage system on a coastal and agricultural area.
Operators and specialists carry out controlled discharges of the waste liquid deposit at the phosphate processing plant in western Florida, closed since 2001 due to the appearance of cracks and leaks, in order to prevent it from breaking down and causing a disaster. ecological.
Florida authorities ordered the eviction of more than 300 homes and closed on Saturday a road within a radius of 1.6 km, near the pond in the Tampa Bay area north of Bradenton. Residents living around the Piney Point Reserve, owned by HRK Holdings, received the alert via text message recommending that they leave the area immediately because the collapse was “imminent.” Authorities expanded the eviction zone hours later to include more houses, although they said they did not plan to open shelters.
According to information provided by Manatee County authorities, on Friday, April 2, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection detected several cracks in one of the walls of the 33-hectare, eight-meter-deep pond, the bottom of which already had a “seepage”. significant ”. From Friday night to Saturday, authorities had brought stones and materials to plug the hole in the pond, but the attempt to contain the contents was a failure.
According to local media, eThe reservoir contains between 2,600 and 3,000 million liters of water used in the processing of phosphates, seawater extracted during the drainage of a nearby port, and rainwater and storm drains. What has caused the alarm of environmental groups.
The company that owns the plant is actively involved in the unloading process. About 83,200 liters per minute are being removed from the pond, according to Spectrum News. Emptying the entire pond would take 10-12 days. Others have been working to map out a route to control the flow from the pond to Tampa Bay.
With the declaration of the state of emergency of DeSantis, more resources are allocated for pumps and cranes in the area. The owner, HRK Holdings, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter on Saturday.
The pond where the leak was discovered is located in the old Piney Point phosphate mine, located on a pile of phosphogypsum, a waste derived from the manufacture of fertilizers and that is radioactive. Phosphogypsum naturally contains small amounts of radon and uranium, and accumulated batteries can also release large concentrations of radon gas.
According to the Florida Department of the Environment, it is slightly acidic water with ammonia, phosphorus and nitrogen content, but not at a level that could be “worrisome.” “We do not believe it is toxic,” said a spokesman for the Department of the Environment in a message to local media.