Manatee County officials monitor second area of intrusion at Piney Point pond
MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. – Overnight drones located a second area of intrusion at the waste water pond in Piney Point, officials announced on Monday.
The second intrusion could be the sign of a looming second breach. Teams of engineers are assessing the area, although seepage rates remained steady overnight, Manatee County Public Safety Director Jacob Saur said. Twenty additional pumps should be online by the end of Monday to help mitigate the damage.
News of the second intrusion comes just a few days after the first breach was announced. On March 25, a phosphogypsum stack at Eastport Terminal facility began leaking.
Phosophogypsum is radioactive waste and a byproduct of the production of fertilizer from phosphate rock.The structure contains 480 million gallons of a mixture of seawater and remnant process water from fertilizer manufacturing operations.
Gov. DeSantis declared a state of emergency on April 3 for Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas counties due to their proximity to the facility. Law enforcement and public safety officials ramped up evacuations in the area surrounding Piney Point in Manatee County due to an “imminent” collapse and release of the wastewater pond.
DeSantis said the controlled discharge of the reservoir into Port Manatee is about 35 million gallons per day. Pumps are running around the clock attempting to remove as much water from the pond as quickly as possible, according to WFLA. As more pumps are added, water will be moved more quickly. Every moment the pond goes without a total breach in the barrier lessens the chance of a complete uncontrolled release.
A full breach could result in the surge of a 20-feet high wall of water in less than an hour, Acting County Administrator Scott Hopes said.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers are assisting with the breach.
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