DeSantis holds press conference on Piney Point ‘imminent collapse’


Throughout the day the volume had decreased to less than 300 million.

A reservoir of an old phosphate plant, the site of a breach which is leaking polluted water into the surrounding area, prompting an evacuation order in Manatee County, is seen in an aerial photograph taken in Piney Point, Florida, U.S., April 3, 2021. Authorities expanded the evacuation area later on Saturday to include more homes, but said they were not planning to open shelters. Some families were placed in local hotels.

The Environmental Protection Agency said late Sunday that it is "actively monitoring the ongoing situation at Piney Point" and has "deployed an on-scene coordinator" to work with local officials.

Hopes said he hoped the emergency would inspire a permanent fix for phosphate stacks following decades of neglect.

County officials say well water remains unaffected and there is no threat to Lake Manatee, the area's primary source of drinking water.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection says the water in the pond is primarily saltwater mixed with wastewater and stormwater.

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

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Large sections of fencing that secluded much of the surrounding area for months have only begun to come down in recent weeks. But CBS News reported that security officials had already warned congressional staffers of a threat before the auto ramming.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, noted that the leak is not the first at the property, in a letter to DeSantis on Saturday calling on him to convene an emergency session of the Florida Cabinet. A portion of the containment wall in the reservoir shifted, leading officials to think a collapse could occur at any time. The water running out on its own is going to Piney Point creek and into Cockroach Bay, an aquatic preserve in the Tampa Bay north of the facility. 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. But "we are not out of the critical area yet", he warned.

"The radiologicals are still below surface water discharge standards". We saw ducks yesterday, there are snooks swimming in there. Nevertheless, pouring huge amounts of nutrients into a water system can cause havoc for freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems, as it fuels excessive plant and algal growth.

DeSantis said the company operating the site, HRK Holdings, should be held accountable.

Phosphogypsum is a byproduct of fertilizer from phosphate rock, and is considered to be weakly radioactive. An engineer even advised against using the reservoir as a backstop at peak levels because of a "relatively high potential for liner failure and potential release of process water into the gypsum dikes or pond floor".

"Federal officials need to clean up this mess the fertilizer industry has dumped on Florida communities and immediately halt further phosphogypsum production", Jaclyn Lopez, the organization's Florida director, said in a statement.

Hopes said the plan is not to fix the damaged reservoir liner.