Toxic Florida wastewater collapse


Zaria Moudud, Staff Reporter

In Manatee County, Florida, hundreds of residents have fallen under evacuation orders from the officials and the state due to an unusual reason. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in Manatee County because of a collapse of a wastewater pond close to many houses. According to the Governor and authorities, the pond located at the former Piney Point phosphate processing plant had a very reasonable leak, enough to call attention from the state. The structure of the pound had moved significantly, which signifies that a structural collapse was imminent at any time. After a couple of days, the problem finally was taken care of, it appeared.

Engineers and officials purposely “flushed” some of the wastewater out so the pond would not overflow and uncontrollably leaked towards the residences. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, this “flushing” or transfer of wastewater is being executed “at a rate of more than 35 million gallons per day.” The wastewater in discussion, Phosphonyls, is a “radioactive waste” produced after processing phosphate ore into a sort of fertilizer. It can be highly dangerous and radioactive because not only the radioactive materials but because it may contain some toxic metals as well. However, authorities assure that the water is not contaminated, and some samples were taken for analysis for confirmation. 

A lot of trouble and controversies erupted because of this incident, more importantly, because county representatives argue that this problem could have been fixed decades ago and instead was ignored until something serious happened for a permanent solution. After many days of pumping out wastewater from the pond, the risk level around Piney Point has significantly decreased, and authorities assured people that the threat was successfully taken care of for now. The amount of water was lowered enough so engineers could fix the leak.