A break could lead to 340 million gallons of water swamping out in a matter of a few minutes as officials work on holding the leak.
There’s a fear among the citizens that a wastewater reservoir is going to collapse. Thus, more than 300 homes have been evacuated in Florida amid fear.
Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency after a leak found in the Pinney Point Reservoir’s containment wall. The wall is 40 miles (64 km) south of Tampa Bay.
The reservoir keeps primarily saltwater from debasing project. Moreover, the officials said its collapse could lead to 340 million gallons of water flooding out within minutes.
There are worries that if the breach happens, homes in the primarily agricultural area would be flooded with up to 6m (20 feet) of water.
The Department of Environmental Protection of Florida said the water is mixed with wastewater and stormwater. Hence, it has raised levels of phosphorous and nitrogen and is acidic.
The ponds sit in piles of phosphogypsum, which is a solid radioactive byproduct from making fertilizers.
However, authorities have confirmed that the water in the breached pond is not radioactive.
Mr DeSantis said what they are looking for now is to prevent and respond to an actual catastrophic situation.
A highway in the area is closed while the families have been evacuated. Around 316 houses and families afterwards are placed in hotels.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Officials have also been evacuating about 345 inmates from a local jail.
Authorities have been trying to drain water away to reduce the risk of a breach since a leak was discovered in March. The detection of a significant leak led to the first evacuations on Friday.
County Administrator’s Statement
Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said that using two pipes, 22,000 gallons are being drawn every minute. It is drawn into a substantial drainage ditch that has conduits underneath two railroad tracks. The pipes then empty in a line to the seawall.
There have also been attempts to close the leak with rocks and other materials, but they were unsuccessful.
Environmental groups have urged the federal administration to step in to stop sending more wastewater to the existing so-called gypsum stacks. This step could prevent the making of more phosphogypsum. It is left-back when phosphate rock is mined to create fertilizers.