Emergency crews try to plug Florida toxic wastewater leak

Emergency crews try to plug Florida toxic wastewater leak
The leak was discovered at the reservoir at Piney Point. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: Florida emergency crews have been working to prevent a “catastrophic” flood after a leak was discovered in a large reservoir of toxic wastewater.

More than 300 homes near Tampa Bay area have been evacuated, and a highway has been closed near the Piney Point reservoir.

On Saturday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency.

He said on Saturday that the water was “primarily saltwater” from a dredging project mixed with “legacy process water and storm water runoff”.

The governor added that the water was not radioactive, as had been feared, and that the priority of the authority was to prevent a “real catastrophic flood situation”.

Officials said the 77-acre reservoir holds millions of gallons of water containing nitrogen and phosphorus from an old phosphate plant.

The toxic wastewater pond where the leak was discovered is in a stack of phosphogypsum, a radioactive waste product from the manufacture of fertiliser.

Attempts to repair the leak by plugging the hole with rocks and other materials were unsuccessful on Friday.

Declaring a state of emergency allowed funds to be released to send more cranes and pumps to the area.

Mr DeSantis said on Sunday that emergency workers – assisted by the Florida National Guard – were pumping water out of the pond at a rate of 33 million gallons a day.

Other workers also have been charting the path to control the flow of the water.

A statement from national conservation group the Center for Biological Diversity urged the US Environmental Protection Agency to intervene.

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