A reservoir in Florida that holds nearly 400 million gallons of wastewater from a former phosphate mine was leaking on Saturday, prompting hundreds of evacuations, the authorities said.
Crews were “doing their best to control the outflow” of contaminated water into a creek at Piney Point in Florida, the site of a former phosphate mine that is south of Tampa, said Vanessa Baugh, the chairwoman of the Manatee County Commission.
The spillage was an “imminent hazard” that posed “an immediate and substantial danger to human health, safety, welfare and the environment,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis, who issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency.
according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Noah Valenstein, secretary of the State Department of Environmental Protection, said on Saturday night that the water had “elevated levels of nutrients” but that it was not radioactive.
Water was leaking at a rate of two to three million gallons per day, officials said. On March 26, there were 480 million gallons of water in the reservoir; on Saturday morning there were 390 million gallons remaining, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said.
Workers attempted to fix the breach on Friday by reinforcing the wall of the reservoir but were “unfortunately unsuccessful,” Ms. Baugh said.
according to a website tracking developments with the reservoir.
“The water meets water quality standards for marine waters with the exception of pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen and total ammonia nitrogen,” the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said. “It is slightly acidic, but not at a level that is expected to be a concern, nor is it expected to be toxic.”