Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a State of Emergency for Manatee County on Saturday as officials warned of the imminent collapse of a retention pond holding hundreds of millions gallons of toxic wastewater.
After the Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced a break was detected on Friday in one of the walls of a 77-acre (33-hectare) pond holding millions of gallons of water containing phosphorus and nitrogen from an old phosphate plant, an unsuccessful attempt to plug the hole with materials continued into Saturday.
A state of emergency for Manatee County was declared by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Saturday due to a significant leak at a large reservoir of wastewater at the Piney Point industrial site.
According to the executive order declaring the state of emergency, the breached pond contains 480 million gallons (1.8 billion litres) of seawater mixed with process water and the embankment materials from an old fertiliser manufacturing plant.
The state of emergency will ensure that more pumping equipment and cranes are dispatched to the affected area.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried urged the governor in a letter to convene an emergency session of the state cabinet to discuss the current incident, while pointing to the fact the property had witnessed similar leaks in the past.
“The immediate evacuation of residents, disruption of families during Easter weekend, and potential environmental catastrophe requires the attention and action of Florida’s statewide elected leadership,” said Fried.
Initially, the hole was detected on Friday in one of the walls of the 77-acre (33-hectare), 25 ft. (8 meter) deep pond.
After the Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced the discovery, efforts were made to block the leak using rocks and other materials, yet the attempts proved futile.
Florida officials have since warned that a collapse of the stack of phosphogypsum at the Piney Point industrial site was "imminent," threatening to flood roads. ■