Saturday, 31 July, 2021


DeSantis holds press conference on Piney Point ‘imminent collapse’

Florida governor declares state of emergency amid fears of reservoir collapse Florida declares state of emergency over toxic wastewater leak
Melba Vasquez | 05 April, 2021, 13:19

Worsening of a week-old leak in the containment wall of the 480 million-gallon Piney Point waste water reservoir prompted DeSantis to declare a state of emergency over concerns over the possible collapse of stacks of phosphogypsum waste, primarily from fertilizer manufacturing, at the plant.

The Manatee County Public Safety Department said that 316 households were within the full evacuation area as of Saturday evening.

More than 300 homes were immediately evacuated with families placed in hotels, while 345 inmates from Manatee County Jail were moved to an undisclosed location.

Manatee County administrator Scott Hopes said the models show the area could be covered with between 1ft to 5ft of water, and the second floor is 10ft above ground.

Florida officials are urging residents in the surrounding areas of a wastewater storage pond to heed evacuation orders ahead of a potential overflow of polluted water.

The state-run Protecting Florida Together, website said the leak had been reported on March 26. The water is slightly acidic but not to a concerning or toxic level, officials said.

A significant leak at a large pond of wastewater threatened to flood roads and burst a system that stores polluted waters.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared the state of emergency on Saturday. A portion of the containment wall in the reservoir shifted, leading officials to think a collapse could occur at any time.

"Collapse of Piney Point Stack Imminent!" an alert from county officials released at 11 a.m. Saturday said.

Instead, "we will be depleting the holding ponds of their water, and then we will be moving forward to a permanent solution into the future", he said.

DeSantis clarified on Sunday that the water is not radioactive, after there was concern it might be.

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

But he also warned that "we are not out of the critical area yet".

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a coordinator on the scene to work with emergency management and provide support as necessary, said EPA spokeswoman Brandi Jenkins.

"We hope the contamination is not as bad as we fear", said Justin Bloom of the group, Suncoast Waterkeeper.

"For more than 50 years, this central Florida mining operation has caused numerous human health and environmental disasters and incidents", she wrote DeSantis in a letter about the Piney Point plant, which was originally constructed by Borden Chemical Company in 1966.

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