As teams scramble to seal a leak in a toxic sewage pond in Florida, local environmental activists, longtime disparaging politicians, say the state is seeing a historic setback that catastrophic. Environment for many decades.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said Monday evening that fears of a second leak in the Piney Point reservoir were unfounded. But a water source about 40 miles south of Tampa, filled with toxic waste and fertilizers, is still on the verge of collapse. If all violations take place, the Manatee County area could result in “severe flooding,” Gov. Ron DeSantis warned on Sunday.
The crew continued to pump waste water from the leaky well. But their work may be too slow. Over the weekend, more than 300 homes in potential floods were ordered to evacuate. If the reservoir was filled with waste from the expired phosphate plant, a total leak was found, 600 million gallons of water could spill out of the containment pool in minutes, district officials said.
Environmental advocates in the Tampa Bay area say they know a crisis like this is coming and worry about the potential short- and long-term impacts.
Glenn Compton, founder of ManaSota-88, a Florida-based environmental nonprofit, has been keeping close eye on Piney Point since 1968, just two years after phosphate mining for fertilizer began at the site.
“It was one disaster after another,” he said of the reservoir.
Piney Point Reservoir is located above the phosphorus heap, often referred to as the “Gong Yip”, a large storage container of by-products from the phosphate fertilizer industry. Many are built to the height of more than 200 feet and have a reservoir above it to collect rainwater.
“When the gyp is very large and it rains, you don’t want the rainwater going through the pile and leaking,” Compton says. In theory, the Piney Point Reservoir is meant to hold the rainwater and prevent further contamination.
He said that would be the case if the reservoir was not affected by the “Set of failure”
In 2006, he said that a well had been drained. At the facility, site managers took the dredged material from Port Manatee, a nearby port. “This pile was never meant to store the dredged material,” he said.
When the plastic liner held water in 2011, “millions of gallons of untreated wastewater were released outside the area,” he said, polluting nearby ports and destroying fragile ecosystems.
But the leak did not prompt enough change to prevent further disasters.
The reservoir is now leaking and there is a serious risk, he warned.
“There isn’t the best situation here,” said Compton, who believes the current leak is preventable.
Justin Bloom, a local lawyer and founder of the nonprofit Suncoast Waterkeeper, said in the worst-case scenario, the water sheet would end up at bay and would later destroy the environment and the region’s economy. Said local attorney and founder of the nonprofit Suncoast Waterkeeper. West Central Florida
“The main reason why many people move down here and live here is to be close to the sea and around Tampa Bay,” he said. Overall abuse would be dangerous and, in the long run, could wipe out tourism fishing. And make the property’s value lower
Bloom said Piney Point has a “long and dire history” and describes it as a “threat to the community for years.”
“There has been a failure to adequately control this plant and the phosphate industry in general by local, state and federal governments,” he said.
Bloom and others say the phosphate fertilizer industry is polluting the “Garages to the Grave”: pollution from digging and debris do too.
Although it can prevent abuse But the damage was already done. Officials are rushing to pump water out of the leaky reservoir. But that water has to go somewhere.
“Where are they going to put the water?” Asks Sarah Hollenhurst, a local environmental activist.
She wondered if the water would flow into creek and bays, creating very dreadful red tides or algae blooms that had already spread over the area. This happens when runoff causes the growth of algae that suck oxygen from the water when it dies and lead to the killing of fish.
Hollenhurst is also concerned about possible ice contamination, which can affect tap water.With more than two dozen gyp stacks in Florida, she suspects another event like this.
“These disasters will continue as long as phosphate mining is performed,” she said.