Florida Piney Point reservoir's 'imminent' overflow prompts evacuation order

Leak of radioactive wastewater plant in Florida 'imminent': officials

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Saturday after a significant leak at a large pond of wastewater threatened to flood roads and burst a system that stores polluted waters.

The Tampa-area reservoir could cause structural collapse at any time, according to Manatee County Director of Public Safety Jacob Sauer, who gave an update on Saturday.

Footage provided to Storyful by Manatee County Public Safety shows a rushing stream of contaminated water.

PHOTO: Rep. Will Robinson speaks during a press conference regarding a possible leak near the old Piney Point phosphate plant site in Palmetto, Fla., April 2, 2021.

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

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

"We're talking about the potential of about (480) million gallons, within a matter of seconds and minutes, leaving that retention pool and going around the surrounding area", said Scott Hopes, the Manatee County Administrator.


Manatee County, the state and HRK Holdings, who now owns the property, have worked for years in finding a solution.

The reservoir holds two stacks of phosphogypsum, or radioactive waste formed as a byproduct of fertilizer made from phosphate rock, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Those efforts worked temporarily, but appeared to have failed by Saturday, 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", Fried said.

According to reports, the abandoned Piney Point plant is on the verge of an "imminent" leak that could unleash millions of gallons of acidic, radioactive water into surrounding neighborhoods.

There are at least 70 gypsum stacks in the USA and about 27 in Florida, mostly in the region of west-central Florida.

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