Manatee County, Florida Under State of Emergency for Possible Radioactive Flood After Phosphate Plant Leak

Over the weekend, Manatee County, Florida, was under a state of emergency, with more than 300 homes ordered to evacuate due to a wastewater reservoir spill.


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Phosphate Leak

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After a major leak at a large pond at the old Piney Point phosphate mine threatened to burst a facility that stores water contaminated with hazardous materials, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proclaimed a state of emergency on Saturday.

Officials have warned about the risk of the reservoir collapsing and flooding the immediate area.

Residents living by the Piney Point reservoir received a text message advising them to evacuate the area immediately because the reservoir was “imminently collapsing.” Later Saturday, officials extended the evacuation area to cover more houses but said they had no plans to open shelters.

State of Emergency

A house surrounded by flood water

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According to the state department of environmental protection, a breach was discovered on Friday in one wall of a 77-acre reservoir with a depth of 25 feet that contains millions of gallons of water containing phosphorus and nitrogen from the old phosphate mine.

To minimize the chance of a collapse, officials are draining water from the reservoir and pouring it into Port Manatee’s bay.

Officials attempted to block the breach with rocks and materials but were unable.

On Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis proclaimed a state of emergency in the county. He said the water being dumped is mostly saltwater “mixed with legacy process water and stormwater runoff” at a press conference on Sunday.

Related Article: EPA Called Out to Respond to Water Contamination in New York

Radioactive Flood


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At a press conference on Saturday, Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes claimed that the most pressing issue was that the water might flood the city, considering the low population density.

According to Hopes, once the pond sunk, it would put other parts of the plant in jeopardy.

“We’re talking about the possibility of around 600 million gallons leaving the detention pool and flowing across the entire area in a matter of seconds and minutes,” he added.

Water Irregularities

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According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the water is safe to drink. “Except for pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen, and total ammonia nitrogen, it meets water quality requirements for coastal waters. It’s mildly acidic, but not to the point that it’s a challenge.”

Officials are working on getting in more tanks to empty the reservoir, according to DeSantis, and are pumping out 33 million gallons a day.

Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, encouraged DeSantis to call the state cabinet’s immediate meeting, noting that the Piney Point land has already experienced similar leaks.

Previous Disasters

After a large sinkhole opened up in a phosphogypsum stack pond in 2016, more than 200 million gallons of polluted wastewater from another fertilizer plant in central Florida leaked into one of the state’s largest aquifers.

There are at least 70 gypsum stacks in the United States, with around 27 in Florida, mainly in the state’s west-central region. Since the piles covering the structure can exceed 500 feet in height, the gypsum stacks’ pollutants cannot be seen from the ground.

Also Read: Dystopic Water: Scientists Turn Smart Aerogel into Drinking Water

For more environmental news, don’t forget to follow Nature World News!

© 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

© 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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