Water contaminated with radioactive waste bursts sparking major evacuation of 300 homes


Residents who live near a reservoir were told to evacuate immediately after a reservoir contaminated with radioactive wastewater burst.

The large pond of wastewater threatened to flood roads after a significant leak was found.

More than 300 people were sent an alert telling them a collapse was ‘imminent.

Hundreds left their home and a highway in Florida was closed Saturday, after the discovery at the Piney Point phosphate mine in Tampa Bay.

The break was detected in one of the walls of a 77-acre pond, which is 25-feet deep, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

It holds millions of gallons of water containing phosphorus and nitrogen from the old plant.



One part of the 77-acre pool has burst
One part of the 77-acre pool has burst

Officials said the main concern from the collapse would be flooding, calling the water ‘slightly acidic’.

The old Piney Point phosphate mine sits in a stack of phosphogypsum, a waste product from manufacturing fertiliser that is radioactive.

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It contains small amounts of naturally occurring uranium and radium, and stacks can also release large concentrations of radon gas.



Local residents were sent an alert to leave the area immediately
Local residents were sent an alert to leave the area immediately

The evacuation area was expanded by authorities on Saturday to include more homes, but they said they were planning to open shelters after efforts to stop the leak were unsuccessful.

“The water meets water quality standards for marine waters with the exception of pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen and total ammonia nitrogen,’ the state said in a statement.

“It is slightly acidic, but not at a level that is expected to be a concern, nor is it expected to be toxic.”



The water is 'slightly acidic' and could flood local roads
The water is ‘slightly acidic’ and could flood local roads

Manatee County Administrator, Scott Hopes, said the water could flood the area, which is agricultural and low in population density.

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“We are talking about the potential of about 600 million gallons within a matter of seconds and minutes leaving that retention pool and going around the surrounding area,” Hopes said.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein said: “While this water meets most water quality standards for marine waters, there are elevated levels of nutrients and the water is acidic. However, the water is not radioactive.”



More than 300 homes were evacuated as part of the plan
More than 300 homes were evacuated as part of the plan



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Jaclyn Lopez, Florida Director of the Center for Biological Diversity told Bay 9 News: “This is nothing that should come as any surprise to officials that have been monitoring this phosphogypsum stack.

“It has had a series and history of repeated leaks and breaches and discharges into Tampa Bay and this latest is the most alarming because it’s caused this public notice that’s forced the evacuation and the governor to declare a state of emergency.”





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