VIDEO: Florida phosphate plant emergency due to imminent risk of waste spill

File photo of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Miami Florida – Operators and specialists carry out this Saturday controlled discharges of a waste liquid tank from a phosphate processing plant in western Florida closed since 2001 due to the appearance of cracks and leaks, in order to prevent it from breaking down and causing an ecological disaster.

The inhabitants of some 15 or 20 houses and the owners and employees of a few businesses located within a radius of one mile (1.6 kilometers) of the plant are subject to an evacuation order from this Friday afternoon and the access roads to the area is cut off today Saturday.

All were warned of the possibility of an “imminent and uncontrolled discharge” of the water from the pond. the former Piney Point plant, owned by HRK Holdings, said Local Channel 10 in Tampa, a city about 280 miles (450 km) northwest of Miami.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in Manatee County in order to “ensure that resources are allocated if response and recovery is needed” in the event of the raft rupturing.

According to information provided by Manatee County authorities, on Friday, April 2, several cracks were found in the pool, the bottom of which already had a “significant leak”.

According to Local 10, it contains between 700 and 800 million gallons (2,600 and 3,000 million liters) of liquid and to relieve the pressure, controlled discharges are carried out through pipes that drain into Port Manatee, in Tampa Bay, which has caused the alarm of environmental groups.

The company that owns the plant is actively involved in the unloading process.

Approximately 22,000 gallons (83,200 liters) per minute are being removed from the pond, according to Spectrum News.

The pond contains water used in the processing of phosphates, seawater drawn during drainage from a nearby port, and rainwater and storm drains.

According to the Florida Department of the Environment, it is a slightly acidic water with ammonia, phosphorus and nitrogen content, but not at a level that could be “worrying”.

We do not believe it is toxic, a spokesman for the Department of the Environment said in a message to Local 10.

“We moved to this area eight months ago. It’s our first home and we hope they drain the raft, ”James Ondrey, one of the evacuated neighbors, told Spectrum News.