Contamination threatens communities, a seaport, and water resources.
By Michael McGrady, Maritime Direct Americas & Pacific Correspondent
PALMETTO, MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the area of Manatee County in the US state of Florida. Media reports indicate that a wastewater pond used by a defunct phosphate plant near the Port of Manatee, the nearby county-owned seaport dumping into the Gulf of Mexico, could spillover and send hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water into local water resources, including the port, and potentially to the Tampa Bay.
“Our first priority is public health and safety. Teams on the ground are laser-focused on addressing this issue, and I have directed [Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein] to work with Manatee County and utilize all available resources to form a permanent solution to this longstanding issue,” said Gov. DeSantis. “I have also deployed the National Guard, and they are in the process of dropping off additional pumps via aircraft on top of the berms to help decrease the water levels in the Piney Point reservoir at an even faster pace. The State is committed to holding HRK and all involved parties accountable.”
According to state authorities, a worst-case scenario could send 20 feet of contaminated water flooding from the wastewater pond’s site. The actual site of the contaminated pond is Piney Point. DeSantis and his emergency management staff indicate a total breach that spurts could destabilize nearby gypsum tacks containing radioactive materials.