The fear is that an accident will pour hundreds of thousands of liters of contaminated water over homes and in Tampa Bay. This Monday (5), inspection drones found a second malfunction.
For precaution, more than 300 houses have been evacuated in Manatee County. In addition, part of a highway was blocked, and hundreds of inmates from a local prison were taken upstairs or transferred.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Saturday declared a state of emergency in three counties in the Tampa Bay area to free up resources and face the crisis.
Another measure adopted to prevent a major leak was the installation of new pumps to remove the contaminated material to transport, in small and safer concentrations, dirty water to the Tampa bay.
Although the practice is supervised by environmental authorities, there is also a fear that the solution will harm the ecosystem and, consequently, tourism.
Reservoir of water contaminated with phosphate in an old plant in Florida is a concern; Sunday photo (4) – Photo: Drone Base / Reuters
“It would be like dumping 50,000 bags of fertilizer into the bay,” Ed Sherwood, director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, explained to the Tampa Bay Times.
If the potential flooding of the area around the old Piney Point plant is successfully avoided, all contaminated water can go into the sea.
DeSantis said on Sunday that these wastewater “meet water quality standards for marine waters”, although they have excessive amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen.
Algae grow very fast with these elements, and environmental groups fear that a discharge into the ocean of thousands of liters of these nutrient-rich waters could cause a deadly “red tide” or an algae explosion, which would seriously affect not only marine life, but also tourist activity.
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