[UPDATE] Florida Phosphate Plant Spots Second Potential Leak in the Reservoir

Nature

On Monday, workers struggling to save a central Florida reservoir holding hundreds of millions of gallons of polluted water from collapsing discovered a possible second spill. Officials shared optimism that the infamous “20-foot wall of water” that would result from a complete breach of the reservoir walls could be avoided.

A phosphogypsum stack located in nearby Fort Meade, Florida. The Piney Point stack encloses wastewater.

(Photo : Harvey Henkelmann on Wikimedia Common)

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

Plant Leak

Over the past week, wastewater has been spilling out of a pool at the Piney Point phosphate plant in Tampa at a rate of 2 to 3 million gallons per day.

Officials started dumping 35 million gallons of water a day into the ecologically fragile Tampa Bay over the weekend, raising concerns about an environmental disaster.

At a press conference on Monday, Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said that contractors had brought in more pumps and that they intended to more than double the volume of polluted water dumped into the bay from the reservoir to 100 million gallons per day.

Officials had warned that if the reservoir failed, a wall of water would flood the nearby homes.

“You can see how, as we go from 35 million gallons a day to 100 million gallons per day or more taking it out, we would be in a position where, as all those flows occur, we would no longer have the risk of the complete break that will bring the 20-foot wall of water,” Hopes added.

Second Leak

FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Finally Represented Innovational Climate Model to Predict Water Needs

(Photo : FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Finally Represented Innovational Climate Model to Predict Water Needs)

According to Jacob Saur, county public safety officer, others were investigating a possible second leak

when staff raised the release of dirty water from the reservoir. An infrared drone had detected activities north of the original spill, which was being investigated, according to Saur.

A congressman, Vern Buchanan, took a helicopter tour of the site.

“Seeing the truth up there is very concerning to me,” he expressed his concern. “I know they’re making strides, but the water that’s coming out looks pretty contaminated to me, so I’m anxious about it.

“I want to be confident and hopeful, but simply pumping water into Tampa Bay is not a good idea or a good place to be.”

Possible Environmental Crisis

Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and the state’s sole elected Democrat, warned of a “environmental crisis” over the weekend.

“On Easter weekend, Floridians were forced to flee their homes. “480 million gallons of radioactive wastewater could end up in Tampa Bay, posing an environmental disaster,” she tweeted.

However, Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, tried to downplay claims that the water had signs of hazardous contaminants on Sunday.

“Except for phosphate and nitrogen, the water follows water quality requirements, standards for inland waters,” he added.

More than 300 people were forced to evacuate their homes by officials. 345 inmates were transferred from jail, with the remainder being transferred to the second floor.

The pond at the abandoned phosphate mine is covered by a phosphogypsum stack, a radioactive waste product from fertilizer processing that contains trace amounts of radium and uranium. Significant amounts of radon gas may also be released from the piles.

A Call for Action 

Water

(Photo : LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash)
Tap water

Environmentalists cautioned that dumping more toxins into Tampa Bay would increase the chance of poisonous red tide algae blooms harming biodiversity.

The environmental group Mana-Sota 88 said, “Phosphate industries have had over 50 years to work out a way to dispose of the toxic gypsum wastes.” “At this time, there are no federal, state, or municipal laws forcing the sector to make environmentally appropriate final disposal of phosphogypsum wastes.”

“The current problem can be traced back to the ludicrous 2006 decision to allow dredged material from Port Manatee to be put into one of Piney Point’s gyp stacks, which the stack was never intended for,” the group continued.

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

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

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