Leak in sewage basin: Florida threatens environmental disaster
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A leak in the basin of a former phosphate and fertilizer plant alerts the authorities. There is a threat of flooding with poisonous water.
- Due to a leak in a sewage basin, the US state of Florida is threatened with a devastating environmental disaster
- The damaged wastewater basin holds 1.29 billion liters of water that is contaminated with phosphorus and nitrogen from a disused phosphate mine
- If the pool breaks, there is a risk of a rolling wall of water six meters high
- A flood could have fatal consequences for creatures in the sea, for the people in the area and for the tourism industry
More than 300 houses were evacuated over the Easter weekend: Because of a leak Sewage basin in Manatee County, the US state is threatened Florida an environmental disaster. In Piney Point, emergency services had to pump 125 million liters of the contaminated sewage from the basin, which belongs to a disused phosphate mine, according to Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis.
A leak was created in the plastic lining of the sewage basin, which continues to expand. Attempts to seal the break have so far been unsuccessful. The emergency services tried “to avert a really catastrophic flood situation and to react if necessary,” said DeSantis at a press conference. He had previously made a picture of the situation on a helicopter flight. Even before the flight, DeSantis had declared a state of emergency for the area in order to free up crisis funds.
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Meanwhile, the concern that there might be a second leak turned out to be unfounded. According to the US state environment department, technicians had examined the situation and concluded that there was no second hole.
Florida: Attempted water could be devastating
Yet millions of liters threaten contaminated water to get through the leak to nearby homes and Tampa Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. The sewage is mostly using Phosphor and nitrogen burdened. Environmentalists warned that if the nutrient-rich water seeps into the ocean, it could cause dangerous algal blooms that are suffocating fish and other marine life. Effects on tourism were also feared.
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At a flooding the wastewater could also run into storage tanks in which Phosphorgips, a waste product from fertilizer production. Phosphorus gypsum is considered radioactive because of its content of radon isotopes. It also contains toxic metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury.
Sewage basin in Manatee: houses cleared, motorway closed
If the basin were to break completely, “more than 340 million gallons” (1.29 billion liters) of wastewater could be released into the environment in a matter of minutes, warned Manatee County’s chief executive Scott Hopes. In this case, he says, a rolling “wall of water” six meters high would be created.
In the not particularly densely populated area, around 300 houses have already been cleared and a motorway has been partially closed. About 350 inmates from a nearby prison had been moved to the upper floors, local media reported.
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Mine is said to have caused health and environmental damage for 50 years
DeSantis stated, HRK Holdings, the Operating company the disused mine must be held accountable. The resulting situation is “unacceptable and it is nothing we will allow it to continue,” assured the governor. Upon request, HRK initially did not comment on the matter.
Florida’s head of administration for agriculture, Nicole Fried, wrote to DeSantis that the mine around 40 miles in the city of Tampa had caused various environmental and health damage for more than 50 years. There were also repeated problems with the plastic lining of the sewage basin.
Local chief Hopes said the Manatee County authorities wanted to find a “permanent fix” for the sewage basins of the disused mine after dealing with the current emergency. To do this, all basins should be pumped out and then probably sealed.
(afp / dpa / raer)