Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Saturday for Manatee County, Fla. after a breach of toxic water from a reservoir at the old Piney Point phosphate plant.
The leak in the pond that originally contained 480 million gallons of contaminated water poses “imminent hazard” to more than 300 homes in the area, residents of which were asked to evacuate immediately, KOKI-TV reported.
Due to a possible breach of mixed saltwater from the south reservoir at the Piney Point facility, I have declared a State of Emergency for Manatee County to ensure resources are allocated for necessary response & recovery.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 3, 2021
The Piney Point reservoir is in a stack of phosphogypsum, a radioactive waste product from processing phosphate, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Crews are pumping 33 million gallons of water daily to reduce the pressure on the breach, according to KOKI-TV. Officials, however, have already warned of “imminent collapse” due to unstable gypsum stacks near the pond. The worst-case models predict release of a “20-foot wall of water,” Acting Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said.
All the previous attempts to repair the leak, including plugging the hole with rocks and other materials, have failed, BBC reported. (RELATED: DeSantis Issues Executive Order, Bans Vaccine Passports)
“It is primarily salt water from the Port Manatee dredge project mixed with legacy process water and storm water runoff. The water was tested prior to discharge,” DeSantis said, speaking during a briefing, The New York Post reported. “The water meets water quality standards for marine waters with exception primarily of the phosphorous and the nitrogen.”