Florida town evacuated over fear of wastewater reservoir collapse

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Over 300 homes have been evacuated in Florida over fear of collapse of a wastewater reservoir.

A state of emergency have been declared by Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis after a leak was found in a containment wall of the Piney Point reservoir, which is 40 miles (64km) south of Tampa Bay.

The reservoir holds “primarily saltwater” from a dredging project and officials said its collapse could lead to 340 million gallons of water flooding out in a matter of minutes.

There are fears if the collapse happens, homes in the mostly agricultural area would be flooded with up to 6m (20ft) of water.

Governor Ron DeSantis

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said the water is mixed with wastewater and storm water and has elevated levels of phosphorous and nitrogen and is acidic.

The ponds sit in stacks of phosphogypsum, a solid radioactive by-product from manufacturing fertilisers

Authorities have however confirmed the water in the breached pond is not radioactive.

DeSantis said: “What we are looking at now is trying to prevent and respond to, if need be, a real catastrophic flood situation.”

A highway in the area has been closed while families have been evacuated from at least 316 homes and placed in hotels.

Authorities have been trying to drain water away to reduce the risk of a breach since a leak was discovered in March.

There have also been attempts to plug the leak with rocks and other materials, but without any success. Environmental groups have urged the federal government to step in to halt sending more wastewater to the existing so-called gypsum stacks and prevent the creation of more phosphogypsum, which is left behind when phosphate rock is mined to produce fertiliser.

Wastewater reservoir

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