Florida governor urgently working to prevent 'catastrophic flood' in Tampa area

Florida governor urgently working to prevent 'catastrophic flood' in Tampa area

Florida governor urgently working to prevent 'catastrophic flood' in Tampa area

The pond where the leak was discovered is at the old Piney Point phosphate mine, sitting in a stack of phosphogypsum, a waste product from manufacturing fertilizer that is radioactive.

© Provided by New York Daily News Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gestures during a news conference Sunday, April 4, at the Manatee County Emergency Management office in Palmetto, Fla. Ron DeSantis said crews were working to prevent the collapse of the reservoir while evacuating the area to avoid a "catastrophic flood".

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

"Due to a possible breach of mixed saltwater from the south reservoir at the Piney Point facility, I have declared a State of Emergency for Manatee County to ensure resources are allocated for necessary response & recovery", DeSantis wrote on Twitter.

Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said it could take between 10 to 12 days for the situation to stabilize, according to ABC affiliate WJXX.

Workers have been pumping out thousands of gallons per minute at the site to bring the volume down in the event the pond bursts. Authorities closed off portions of the U.S. Highway 41 and ordered evacuations of 316 homes. Officials said the water is slightly acidic but not to a concerning or toxic level.

"We are talking about the potential of about 600 million gallons (2.3 billion litres) within a matter of seconds and minutes, leaving that retention pool and going around the surrounding area", he said.

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

The water being discharged from Piney Point is a mix of sea water from the Port Manatee dredge project, process water and storm water, officials said.

Hopes said he could not rule out that a full breach could destabilize the walls of the other ponds at the Piney Point site.

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

An estimated 390 million gallons of water remained in the pond as of Saturday morning, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The department said the discharge water meets "water quality standards for marine waters with the exception of pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen and total ammonia nitrogen".

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