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(CMR) Hundreds of residents in Manatee County, Florida, were ordered to evacuate their homes over Easter weekend as officials feared that a wastewater pond could collapse “at any time.”
The Manatee County Public Safety Department told people near the plant to evacuate due to an “imminent uncontrolled release of wastewater” a CBS report stated.
On Saturday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the area.
Manatee Director of Public Safety Jake Saur said, “A portion of the containment wall at the leak site shifted laterally, signifying that structural collapse could occur at any time.”
Evacuation notices were sent out Friday for persons who were within half a mile of Piney Point. However, by 11 am Saturday, evacuation orders were extended to people within one mile north of the reservoir and those within half a mile to the south of the site, CBS reported.
Some highways were also closed to traffic.
Mandatory evacuations were extended an additional half mile west and one mile southwest of the site on Saturday evening. Manatee County Public Safety Department said that 316 households are within the full evacuation area.
DeSantis said officials were pumping out 33 million gallons of water a day from the pond and that the water was not radioactive; however, officials have expressed concerns about the water leaving the site as the nutrient makeup of the water contains metals.
Even after days of pumping water out of the reservoir, there are still roughly 3,450 million gallons of wastewater that could be released resulting in up to 20 feet of water flooding areas.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, phosphogypsum is the “radioactive waste” leftover from processing phosphate ore into a state that can be used for fertilizer.