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Evacuations End, But No Permanent Solution to Piney Point Wastewater Problem

UPDATE: The evacuation order in place for more than 300 houses near Piney Point has been lifted, powerful immediately.Residents are being allowed to return home today.
Officials said the reservoir leak continues, but the amount of water has been decreased by the pumping effort. They did, however, clarify the scenario as”under control.”

Approximately 26 pumps have been deployed, and approximately 180 million gallons have been eliminated from the dripping reservoir.
Officials said that well water drinking water in the area is secure, but some residents are coming home with lingering worries.
“Absolute relief that our house is safe from any type of flooding or poisonous water, but we are very concerned about our colonies. We have two wells here. We don’t know how that’s going to impact our hot water,” Suzy Ardila informed Spectrum Bay News 9.
PREVIOUS STORY

“Following a preliminary meeting on improvements at Piney Point with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Emergency Management, Manatee County Public Safety officials believe sure to re-open U.S. 41 Highway,” the county’s Public Safety Department tweeted Tuesday morning.
What You Need To Know
Officials confirm no additional reservoir leaks

U.S. 41 is intended to reopen as flooding threat recedes

Countless houses have been evacuated across the phosphate plant

Interactive map of water testing from Florida DEP

? Resources for impacted residents and business owners

Despite worries on Monday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection verified there aren’t any new leaks at the site.
On Tuesday afternoon, the DEP provided the next status update:

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried visited Piney Point on Tuesday, after 26 brand new pumps and 10 vacuum sockets have been introduced into speed up the emptying procedure.
Fried said there has to be a permanant solution.

The latest report renders greater than 300 million gallons of wastewater from the massive reservoir, and the DEP said it’s testing water quality at 11 locations across Port Manatee. Officials state that the water isn’t radioactive and extends quality standards, but severe ecological issues remain.
The wastewater is abundant with potassium and magnesium, which makes it acidic and potentially detrimental to Tampa Bay’s delicate ecosystem.
Environmental Impacts
The Department of Environmental Protection says the water from the pond is mostly salt water mixed with wastewater and storm water. It’s elevated levels of nitrogen and adware and is acidic, the agency says. That water is being pumped to Port Manatee that leads to Tampa Bay.
The EPA says too much nitrogen in wastewater can cause dangerous algae to develop quicker and cause fish kills.

“That is something, unfortunately, that could have been dealt with over the years,” Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) said after shooting a first-hand appearance from a helicopter on Monday. Piney Point is at his congressional district. “I want the very best and the smartest on the floor… Here is something that could have been dealt with over the years. I’m not looking to assess any attribute or anything else.”
Environmental advocates state agree the looming threat should have been treated sooner.
“With 24 longer phosphogypsum stacks storing more than 1 billion tons of the hazardous, radioactive waste in Florida, the EPA needs to step in right now.”
Manatee County officials also have said the more than 300 million gallons of wastewater remaining at Piney Point aren’t radioactive.
Residential Impacts
More than 300 houses have been evacuated. Officials cautioned that a complete collapse of the reservoir may ship a 20-foot wall of wastewater into neighboring areas and companies.
On Monday afternoon, the Manatee County Public Safety Department said on Twitter that more than 100 inhabitants at the evacuation zone have been placed into hotels.
Resources and Information to Affected Residents

Homes near the Piney Plant site may be overrun by a 20-foot wall of wastewater in the event the reservoir neglects, officials said. (Manatee County)
Some inhabitants, but are choosing not to evacuate – at least not yet.
“We are well ready to leave. I’ve got bags packed and we could leave ”
“Us being at the top of the hill here, being elevated you know, this is our dwelling. I believe that we are safe here,” she said”If it had to burst, I simply don’t think it’d rather reach us. I would hope not, at least.

Niki Flanery and her household are refusing to leave their home near the Piney Point phosphate plant despite the evacuation order (” The Flanery household )
The Piney Point scenario is also bothering Manatee County district colleges. All school bus transportation within the thoracic zone has been suspended.

Palmetto High School

Palmetto Elementary School

Palm View K-8

Harvey Elementary School

Tillman Elementart School

Lincoln Memorial Academy

Previous Coverage
In an around-the-clock race to rescue countless houses and prevent an ecological catastrophe, crews are pumping hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater in a leaking reservoir for an old phosphate gypsum plant before it collapses.
After days of fears of a plant meltdown, Manatee County officials said before Monday they were confident the risk to areas nearby Piney Point could be elimintated at 48 hours when 20 more pumps could be brought on line.
From Monday evening, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said the”uncontrolled discharge to Piney Point Creek has ceased” and reports of another escape were”unsubstantiated.”
“If the extra pumps come on the internet, we are likely to double the quantity of water that we are pulling from the retention pool,” Acting County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes said Monday.

Earlier Updates
Twenty pumps have been deployed to the site in order to transfer the water into surrounding waterways. With extra pumps on the way, officials hope to double the amount they could pump out per day, which will be about 70 million gallons each day.
Officials say this will alleviate pressure on the violation, preventing a total failure. If this were to take place, officials said the surrounding areas could see a 20-foot wall of water.
The county is currently running hourly flyovers of the site with drone cameras to test things.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has moved 345 inmates into an undisclosed site. Approximately 720 inmates still remain at the facility and have been moved into the upper levels of this jail.
As of Monday morning, officials said that no news is great news, and with all the controlled release of their water, they all hope to be in a better place by Tuesday.
Weekend Updates
7:10 p.m. Sunday:
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office announced Sunday day that countless prison inmates will be moved to an undisclosed place in response to the Piney Point phosphate plant retention pond escape.
A total of 345 offenders will be moved to be able to free up bed room on the upper level of the prison, MCSO public information officer Randy Warren said in an email.
“For safety purposes, we aren’t providing details right now about the transfer of inmates,” he said. “Sheriff Rick Wells and employees are still in constant communication with officials on the situation. We are aren’t expecting more than just a foot of water jail property, at the worst-case situation”
The release didn’t state how long officials anticipated the offenders’ move to last.
Approximately 720 inmates will remain in the prison following the 345 are moved.
2 p.m. Sunday: Controlled wastewater discharge is ongoing Sunday afternoon at the Piney Point phosphate plant, based on Manatee County officials. Manatee County Commission Chairman Vanessa Baugh stated the danger stays but officials are more comfortable Sunday with maintenance efforts than 24 hours earlier.
Additional pumps have been set up and expected to make a large difference at the danger of a complete breach of the reservoir.
Additionally, Baugh worried there are not any dangers to drinking water in the area.
For the latest information on the Piney Point facility, visit mymanatee.org/pineypoint.
Earlier Sunday
Following a trip by air of the Piney Point phosphate site Easter morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis stressed that work is being done to control the wastewater discharge, and ecological issues have been addressed, and a permanent solution to the problem is going to be chased.

Engineering teams and environmental and state officials continue to work on the growing breach and possible meltdown of a gypsum stack at the Piney Point phosphate site in Manatee County.
What began as a leak that prompted 10 to 15 houses to be evacuated dropped on Saturday as Florida ordered more than 300 houses to be evacuated and closed off multiple roadways close to the huge reservoir north of Bradenton. Officials also have said a meltdown may be”imminent.”
DeSantis ordered a state of crisis to Manatee County that later expanded to Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
“What we are looking at today is attempting to stop and react to, if need be, is still a real catastrophic flood situation,” DeSantis said, adding public health and security is your top priority, in addition to minimizing any environmental impacts.
The company said an extra 20 pumps and 10 vacuums have been brought into continue from the controlled release of wastewater, about 35 million gallons each day. This really is critical to prevent a full violation of the dripping Piney Point reservoir.
He urged residents to follow evacuation orders from the areas affected by the ongoing leak and said taxpayers may call 311 for info, follow @ManateeGov on Twitter or visit protectingfloridatogether.gov/PineyPoint for upgrades.
U.S. 41 stays closed from Buckeye Road into Moccasin Wallow Road.
David Allen has lived in the polluted area since 2013.
“I did not know that was there,” he said. “nobody said I lived only a mile from a hazardous waste site.”
Allen worries the contamination will place his family in danger.
“I’m drinking the water, my household is drinking this water, my animals have been drinking this water,” he said. “I want to know what’s inside.”
While officials have said the water from the influenced retention pond meets environmental standards — and isn’t freezing — Allen said he is still worried that the water may be more harmful than they’re letting on.
“I know that they said particular pond isn’t the one which gets the contaminants inside,” he said. “How do we know that? There are three or four contaminant regions — how do we know cross-contamination has not happened on the market?”
Together with the health issues that Allen has regarding the situation, he explained the leak will damage his wallet also.
“I live here, not because of my property worth, but I dwell on a high-value home,” he said. “Now, for this, who’s going to want to purchase if I sell it? My house levels will return.”
Acting Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes said the ongoing shuttle and pumping is to prevent a full breach.
“If we should have a full violation… at totality, at a span of time, the versions, for in less than one hour, are as high as a 20-foot wall of water,” Hopes mentioned.
Water quality is being monitored, DeSantis said, including the wastewater isn’t radioactive. He said the most important concern with the discharged water would be the nutrients, mainly phosphorus and nitrogen.
The Senate included the facility operator HRK Holdings is going to be held liable for any stack failure and permanent alternatives to the facility’s ongoing difficulties are a priority.
Officials introduced in rocks and substances to plug in the gap at the pond late Friday to Saturday, but the effort was unsuccessful.
There are more than 800 million gallons of toxic wastewater around the Piney Point site. The issue remains that a violation will trickle millions of gallons of the toxic water in the surrounding area.
The water is really a byproduct of the creation of fertilizer from phosphate rock.
“It’s had a series and history of repeated escapes and breaches and discharges into Tampa Bay and this most recent is the very alarming since it’s caused this public opinion that has forced the evacuation and the Senate to declare a state of crisis.”
Employees have been pumping out thousands of liters per minute at the site in order to bring down the volume in the event the pond pops. Pumping the entire pond would take 10 to 12 days. Others have been employed to chart the road to control how the water flows from the pond to Tampa Bay.