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US: Florida Homes Evacuated As Wastewater Leak Risks Flood

US: Florida Homes Evacuated As Wastewater Leak Risks Flood
folder_openUnited States access_time2 months ago
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By Staff, Agencies

Emergency crews in central Florida were working Sunday to prevent an environmental catastrophe at a leaking reservoir that risked sending millions of gallons of contaminated wastewater toward nearby homes and into the Tampa Bay.

More than 300 homes near the site of an abandoned phosphate mine and fertilizer-production facility in Manatee County were under mandatory evacuation orders, and Governor Ron DeSantis on Saturday declared a state of emergency to free up funds to tackle the crisis. 

"What we are looking at now is trying to prevent, and respond to if need be, a real catastrophic flood situation," DeSantis told a press conference after viewing the site by helicopter Sunday.

In parallel, he said emergency workers, assisted by the Florida National Guard, were pumping about 33 million gallons of water daily out of a wastewater reservoir at the site, which has sprung a growing leak in its plastic lining.

"According to on-site engineers, a controlled release was necessary to prevent a catastrophic failure," the governor said. 

The wastewater "meets water-quality standards for marine waters," he said, with the exception of phosphorous and nitrogen levels.