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Florida declares state of emergency as reservoir holding millions of gallons of radioactive wastewater 'could collapse' at any time - 300 homes evacuated - April 4, 2021

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  • Florida declares state of emergency as reservoir holding millions of gallons of radioactive wastewater 'could collapse' at any time - 300 homes evacuated - April 4, 2021

    2 hours ago
    Sophia Ankel
    • Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency after a leak was detected at an old phosphate plant pond.
    • The pond, located in Tampa Bay, stores water that contains small amounts of radium and uranium.
    • Residents living close to the reservoir received a warning via text message asking them to evacuate.
    ... George Kruse, a Manatee County commissioner, said he traveled to the plant on Saturday to assess the situation but had to leave the area quickly after realizing it was a safety hazard.

    "We determined that it was no longer safe to be anywhere near Piney Point, so we all kind of raced off the stacks as fast as we could," Kruse said, according to the Guardian.

  • #2
    Center for Biological Diversity

    For Immediate Release, April 3, 2021

    Imminent Failure of Phosphogypsum Stack in Tampa Bay Exposes Phosphate Industry Risks

    Catastrophic Wastewater Release Highlights Need for Federal Action

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.? Manatee County officials have issued evacuation orders for the area surrounding Florida?s Piney Point in anticipation of the imminent catastrophic collapse of a phosphogypsum stack retention pond holding up to 700 million gallons of wastewater.

    It has been reported that 22,000 gallons a minute are being discharged from the holding pond to prevent the release of millions of gallons of wastewater and a failure of the radioactive phosphogypsum stack itself. Phosphogypsum is the radioactive waste from processing phosphate ore into phosphoric acid, which is predominantly used in fertilizer.


    • #3

      Published Sep. 1, 2005


      ... The phosphate plant near Palmetto first opened in the 1960s and was run by multiple owners with a very mixed history of spills and leaks. In 1989, under the control of Royster Phosphates, a cloud of toxic fumes was discharged, which forced the evacuation of Port Manatee, the county stockade and about 400 residents.

      ... Piney Point, of course, is the abandoned phosphate plant whose vast acidic wastewaters are rising with our heavy rains and threatening to again flood a sensitive area of Tampa Bay. State officials endorsed a bizarre solution of treating the waste, loading millions of gallons on a barge called New York and spraying it well offshore over a 2,800-square-mile area of the gulf. To further help, trucks carry partially treated liquid to nearby municipal and industrial treatment plants, and to St. Petersburg for use as reclaimed water.


      • #4

        MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. ? Engineering crews and state and environmental officials continue to work on the developing breach and potential collapse of a gypsum stack at the Piney Point phosphate site in Manatee County.

        What started as a leak that prompted 10-15 homes to be evacuated escalated on Saturday as Florida ordered more than 300 homes to be evacuated and closed off multiple roadways Saturday near the large reservoir north of Bradenton. Officials have said a collapse may be "imminent."

        Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a State of Emergency for Manatee County that later expanded to Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.



        Also updates here:


        • #5
          Plastic liner known to be in poor shape before Piney Point leak, records show

          Published Yesterday
          By Zachary T. Sampson

          The plastic liner that holds wastewater in a roughly 480-million gallon reservoir at the old Piney Point phosphate plant has ? much like the property as a whole ? had problems before.

          Now it could be the cause of an environmental catastrophe in Tampa Bay.

          A leak has already led to discharges of at least 25 million gallons of polluted water at Port Manatee. Managers on the site are scrambling to head off what they fear could be a complete collapse, while environmentalists worry the discharges alone could seriously hurt the bay.

          Regulators believe a tear in the liner might have touched off this cascade.

          ... Over the last year, environmental records show, staff have inspected the liner on multiple occasions and found small holes or weaknesses in plastic seams above the water line. They documented potential cracks last December, October and July, the records show.


          • #6
            Potential second breach discovered at Piney Point phosphate plant

            April 5, 2021 at 12:40 PM EDT - Updated April 5 at 1:42 PM
            By ABC7 Staff

            MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - A potential second breach has been found in the gypsum stacks at the former phosphate plant at Piney Point.

            Public Safety Director Jacob Saur said the Army Corps of Engineers are on scene assessing the damage by drone. Twenty additional pumps were brought to the Piney Point site and they?re all expected to be put in place and working by the end of the day. The EPA and Florida Department of Environmental Protection will also coordinate on site.



            • #7
              Tampa Bay Sampling Response and Results

              DEP is coordinating with local stakeholders and we began water quality monitoring of Port Manatee on March 30, 2021. This data will enable us to protect public health and safety, evaluate any environmental impacts and support the department's full enforcement against HRK for any damages to our state?s resources.
              Sampling Results

              DEP has collaborated with Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, to identify sampling locations around Port Manatee and the adjacent coastline. Currently, the department is sampling 25 locations. This monitoring includes sampling for salinity, dissolved oxygen, clarity, nutrient levels, turbidity, radionuclides and other variables that will determine any changes in baseline water quality status in this area. The counties will be sampling additional separate site locations.

              All water quality results received to-date meet water quality standards. Additional water quality results will be posted as they become available.
              Clicking on a dot will display all information available for that site.



              • #8
                Florida Department of Environmental Protection


                DEP DAILY UPDATES
                Current status updates will be made daily below, through DEP's Twitter account and emails.

                APRIL 8, 2021

                Key status updates and response activities:
                • The reduced rate of discharge to Port Manatee is now estimated to be less than 5 million gallons per day.
                • Approximately 232 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment.
                • To date, approximately 202 million gallons have been discharged to the port.
                • DEP tasked two innovative technology companies to initiate nutrient reduction and removal treatments from water on-site prior to discharging to Port Manatee.
                • DEP is working to repair the one identified area where there is concentrated seepage from the east wall of the NGS-South compartment. The flow of the seepage has reduced and remains contained onsite in the facility?s lined stormwater management system.
                • DEP?s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impacts to Tampa Bay from the Piney Point discharges. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available.
                • Manatee County Emergency Management reopened U.S. Highway 41 and Buckeye Road to traffic and lifted the local evacuation order enabling local residents and businesses to return home safely.


                • #9
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