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Piney Point Live Updates: U.S. 41 Set To Re-Open, Officials Say

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Despite still being a critical situation, there’s some fantastic news on Tuesday morning from Piney Point.There is not a second leak as briefly feared on Monday in the older phosphate gypsum plant. It looks like U.S. 41 will re-open soon.
In an announcement on Twitter before 11 a.m. Tuesday, the Manatee County Public Safety Department explained:”After a preliminary meeting on developments at Piney Point using the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Emergency Management, Manatee County Public Safety officials believe assured to re-open U.S. 41 Highway.”
As stated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the concern of a second leak came from a spurt of wastewater forcing an extra tens of thousands of gallons each day to Piney Point Creek, which joins to Tampa Bay.
This afternoon, state Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried is place to be onsite for an upgrade.
Meanwhile, the 26 new pumps have been introduced, and 10 vacuum trucks, to accelerate the emptying procedure even more.
At last check, there were 300 million gallons remaining from the reservoir. Along with the DEP is analyzing water quality in 11 different places around Port Manatee. Authorities say the water is not radioactive and extends quality criteria.

Nonetheless, the water does include both potassium and nitrogen, which makes it acidic and potentially harmful.
Congressman Vern Buchanan says something ought to have been completed sooner
“I want the best and the brightest on the ground,” explained Rep. Buchanan, whose district covers the region. “This is something which could have been dealt with over the years. I am not seeking to evaluate any blame or anything else.”
PREVIOUS STORY:
Within an around-the-clock race to rescue hundreds of homes and prevent an environmental disaster, crews are planting hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater in a leaking reservoir at an older phosphate gypsum plant before it collapses.
After times of anxieties of a plant collapse, Manatee County officials said before Monday they had been convinced that the threat to neighborhoods near Piney Point could be elimintated in 48 hours if 20 more pumps could be brought online.
From Monday evening, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said that the”uncontrolled release to Piney Point Creek has ceased” and that reports of a second leak were”unsubstantiated.”
Everything You Need To Know
Wastewater reservoir leak in Piney Point plant threatens to flooding homes, damage environment

The water contains high levels of nitrogen, which can trigger algae blooms in Tampa Bay

Crews are pumping millions of gallons to the bay to prevent an uncontrolled collapse

Countless homes have been evacuated around the phosphate plant

Officials cautioned risk of 20-foot wall of water, but officials said uncontrolled release has ceased

? Resources for affected residents and business owners

? Timestamped updates around the Piney Point leak

“If the extra pumps come online, we will more than double the quantity of water which we’re pulling from that retention swimming pool,” Acting County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes said Monday.
This was welcome news for those individuals who’ve been forced from their homes, but the solution was far from perfect.

Environmental Impacts
The Department of Environmental Protection says the water from the pond is mainly salt water combined with wastewater and storm water. It’s elevated levels of nitrogen and adware and can be also acidic, the bureau says. That water has been pumped to Port Manatee which leads to Tampa Bay.
The EPA says an excessive amount of nitrogen in wastewater can cause damaging algae to develop quicker and trigger fish kills.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) acquired a first-hand look in the helicopter.
“This is something, unfortunately, that could have been dealt with over the years,” he said while stressing this is not the opportunity to assign blame. Rather, he said the priority has to be saving homes and maintaining marine life.
“This environmental crisis was made worse by the fact it was entirely predictable and preventable,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida manager at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With 24 more phosphogypsum stacks storing more than 1 billion tons of the dangerous, 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 staying at Piney Point are not radioactive.
Residential Impacts
More than 300 homes have been evacuated. Officials cautioned that a comprehensive collapse of this reservoir may send a 20-foot wall of wastewater into neighboring areas and businesses.
On Monday afternoon, the Manatee County Public Safety Department stated on Twitter that more than 100 inhabitants in the evacuation zone are being put into hotels.
Resources and Information for Affected Residents

Homes near the Piney Plant website may be overrun with a 20-foot wall of wastewater if the reservoir fails,” officials stated. (Manatee County)
Many inhabitants, but are opting not to flee – at least not yet.
“We’re ready to depart. I have bags packed and we could leave ” Her and her husband have two little children.
“Us being on top of this hill here, being elevated you know, this is our home. I believe that we’re safe ,” she said”If it were to burst, I just don’t believe it would quite reach us. I would hope not, at the least.

Niki Flanery and her family are not able to leave their home near the Piney Point phosphate plant regardless of an evacuation order (The Flanery household )
Earlier Updates
Twenty pumps have been deployed to the website to transfer the water to surrounding waterways. With extra pumps on the way, officials hope to double the quantity they could pump out daily, which will be approximately 70 million gallons per day.
Officials say that this will alleviate pressure on the violation, preventing a whole collapse. If this were to take place, officials said the surrounding areas could observe a 20-foot wall of water.
The county is currently running hourly flyovers of this website with drone cameras to check on things.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has moved 345 inmates to an undisclosed site. Approximately 720 inmates nevertheless remain in the facility and have been moved to the top heights of the jail.
As of Monday morning, officials said that no news is great news, and with all the controlled release of their water, they hope to be in a much better place from Tuesday.
7:34 a.m. UPDATE:
The Manatee County School District has suspended all school bus transport within the Piney Point Evacuation Zone for the whole period of the evacuation order.

Palmetto High School

Palmetto Elementary School

Palm View K-8

Harvey Elementary School

Tillman Elementart School

Buffalo Creek Middle School

Lincoln Memorial Academy

Weekend Updates
7:10 p.m. Sunday:

A total of 345 inmates will be moved as a way to free up bed space on the top amount of the prison, MCSO public info officer Randy Warren said in an email.
“For security purposes, we are not providing details at the moment about the transfer of inmates,” he explained. “Sheriff Rick Wells and employees are still in constant communication with officials on the situation. We’re aren’t expecting more than a foot of water on jail property, in the worst-case situation”
The release did not state how long officials expected the inmates’ relocation to survive.
Approximately 720 inmates will remain in the prison following the 345 are moved.
2 Sunday: Controlled wastewater release is continuing Sunday afternoon in the Piney Point phosphate plant, based on Manatee County officials. Manatee County Commission Chairman Vanessa Baugh explained the threat stays but that officials are more comfy Sunday with care efforts than 24 hours before.
Added pumps are being put up and expected to make a significant difference in the threat of a comprehensive breach of this reservoir.
Additionally, Baugh stressed there are no dangers to drinking water in the region.
For the most recent information on the Piney Point center, visit mymanatee.org/pineypoint.
Earlier Sunday
After a trip through the Piney Point phosphate website Easter morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis worried that job has been done to control the wastewater discharge, environmental concerns are being addressed, and a permanent solution to the issue will be chased.

(Chris O’Meara/AP)
Engineering teams and environmental and state officials continue to operate on the developing breach and possible collapse of a gypsum stack in the Piney Point phosphate website in Manatee County.
What started as a leak that motivated 10 to 15 homes to be evacuated dropped on Saturday since Florida ordered more than 300 homes to be evacuated and shut off several roadways near the huge reservoir north west of Bradenton. Officials also have said a collapse may be”imminent.”
DeSantis ordered a state of emergency for Manatee County that later expanded to Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
“What we’re looking at today is attempting to prevent and react to, if need be, is still a genuine catastrophic flood situation,” DeSantis said, adding that public health and safety is your top priority, as well as minimizing any environmental impacts.
The governor said an extra 20 pumps and 10 vacuums are being brought into in the controlled release of wastewater, about 35 million gallons per day. This really is required to prevent a full violation of this leaking Piney Point reservoir.
He encouraged citizens to follow evacuation orders from the areas affected by the continuing leak and said residents could call 311 for info, follow @ManateeGov on Twitter or visit protectingfloridatogether.gov/ / PineyPoint for updates.
U.S. 41 stays closed from Buckeye Road to Moccasin Wallow Road.
David Allen has lived in the polluted region since 2013.
“I didn’t know that was there,” he explained. “nobody explained I lived just a mile from a hazardous waste website.”
Allen worries that the contamination will put his family at risk.
“I am drinking the water, my entire family is drinking the water, my animals are drinking this water,” he explained. “I need to learn what’s in it.”
While officials have said the water in the affected retention pond meets environmental criteria — and is not radioactive — Allen said he is still concerned that the water may be more dangerous than they are letting on.
“I know that they said that particular pond is not the one that has the contaminants in it,” he explained. “How can we know that? There are three or four contaminant regions — how can we know cross-contamination hasn’t occurred over there?”
Together with the health concerns which Allen has concerning the situation, he explained the leak will damage his pocket as well.
“I live here, not due to my property worth, but I dwell on a high-value property,” he explained. “Today, with this, who’s going to want to purchase if I market it? My real estate levels are going to go down.”
Acting Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes said the continuing shuttle and pumping is to avoid a full breach.
“If we need to have a full violation… in totality, in a period of minutes, the models, for in under one hour, are as large as a 20-foot wall of water,” Hopes said.
Water quality has been monitored, DeSantis said, adding the wastewater is not radioactive. He said the main concern with the discharged water is that the nutrients, mainly phosphorus and nitrogen.
The Senate included the facility operator HRK Holdings will be held accountable for any stack failure and permanent solutions to this centre’s ongoing problems are a priority.
Officials brought in stones and substances to plug the hole in the pond late Friday to Saturday, but the attempt was unsuccessful.
There are more than 800 million gallons of toxic wastewater on the Piney Point website. The concern remains that a violation will trickle millions of gallons of this toxic water in the surrounding region.
The water has been a byproduct of the production of fertilizer in phosphate rock. It is acidic, and the stacks have been a source of controversy among environmentalists.
“This is nothing which should come as any surprise to officials which have been monitoring this phosphogypsum stack,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida Director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s had a series and background of repeated escapes and breaches and discharges into Tampa Bay and this latest is the very alarming as it’s due to this public notice that has forced the Senate and the Senate to declare a state of emergency.”
Employees have been pumping thousands of gallons per minute in the website to bring the volume down in the event the pond pops. Pumping the entire pond would require 10 to 12 days. Others have been employed to chart the path to control the method by which the water flows from the pond to Tampa Bay.