MIAMI | A possible second crack has been detected in the wastewater tank of a former phosphate plant in Florida, which threatens to rupture and cause massive flooding and possible environmental disaster, authorities said Monday.
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“An infrared drone identified a signature that could indicate a second crack” in the Piney Point reservoir, Jake Saur, director of public safety for Manatee County, on the west coast of this US state, told reporters.
Engineers are assessing the new situation, he added.
And experts continue to pump water out of the reservoir to reduce pressure there, at the rate of more than 130,000 cubic meters per day.
A state of emergency has been declared in order to allocate new funds to face this potential crisis at the industrial site of Piney Point, a former factory of phosphate, compound used for the production of fertilizers.
Contaminated water is being dumped into Tampa Bay to prevent the region from being flooded, although this solution threatens a fragile ecosystem on which marine life but also tourism depend.
Florida Republican elected Vern Buchanan said he was “very concerned” and called on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to intervene.
Orders have been given to residents of more than 300 nearby homes to evacuate the area south of the large city of Tampa.
Prisoners from the county penitentiary were also transferred by bus to an undisclosed location, while others were relocated to a higher floor of the facility.
The plastic coating of this reservoir, containing more than a million cubic meters of wastewater, from dredging or rainwater in particular, began to leak several days ago.
This water “is not radioactive”, assured the governor Ron DeSantis, affirming that it had been tested before being evacuated and that it was mainly composed of “saline water”.