UPDATED 7:02 PM PT – Saturday, April 3, 2021
Manatee County declared a state of emergency in Florida amid fears a retention pond holding toxic wastewater would soon collapse. On Saturday, officials said up to 600 million gallons of toxic wastewater could suddenly flood areas near Tampa Bay.
Due to a possible breach of mixed saltwater from the south reservoir at the Piney Point facility, I have declared a State of Emergency for Manatee County to ensure resources are allocated for necessary response & recovery.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 3, 2021
According to reports, the retention pond is connected to an old phosphate mine. Last week, officials noticed a tear in the wall lining and aren’t sure the pond will hold.
“If we maintain control, the concern is that should you have a full breach — think of a dam opening up. That runs the risk of destabilizing the walls of the other area,” Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said. “So when we look at the risk factor, the risk factor is really a potential release of nearly a billion gallons.”
TOXIC LEAK: Residents near Piney Point retention pond in Manatee County, Florida were evacuated on Saturday as officials fear an "imminent" collapse of a local wastewater reservoir contaminated with material that could be radioactive. https://t.co/phrXuNUqdg pic.twitter.com/dQ9RCkYYBA
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 4, 2021
Evacuations have started for residents in the area and limited commercial road traffic remains open.