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Evacuations Begin as Radioactive Reservoir Fails in Florida

Only in Florida…

While Florida is no stranger to bizarre headlines, the latest out of the sunshine state is downright terrifying.

The Sunshine State and its residents are no stranger to evacuations and flooding.  They deal with these issues every year, often several times, as hurricane season in both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic tend to pummel Florida fro months at a time.

But this time, the flooding that’s about to take place is far, far worse than anything that a storm could bring in.  This time, it’s nuclear.

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Some residents in Manatee County, Florida, were evacuated from their homes over Easter weekend as officials cited fears that a wastewater pond could collapse “at any time.” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the area on Saturday.

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County officials said the pond, located at the former Piney Point phosphate processing plant, has a “significant leak,” according to CBS affiliate WTSP-TV. The Manatee County Public Safety Department told people near the plant to evacuate due to an “imminent uncontrolled release of wastewater.”

“A portion of the containment wall at the leak site shifted laterally,” said Manatee Director of Public Safety Jake Saur, “signifying that structural collapse could occur at any time.”

But it gets worse.

Manatee County Public Safety Department initially sent out emergency evacuation notices on Friday for those who were within half a mile of Piney Point, and by 11 a.m. Saturday, evacuation orders were extended to people within one mile north of the reservoir’s stacks of phosphogypsum — a fertilizer waste product — and those within half a mile to the south of the site. Surrounding stretches of highway were also closed to traffic.

Phosphogypsum is the “radioactive waste” left over from processing phosophate ore into a state that can be used for fertilizer, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

“In addition to high concentrations of radioactive materials, phosphogypsum and processed wastewater can also contain carcinogens and heavy toxic metals,” the Center said in a statement on Saturday. “For every ton of phosphoric acid produced, the fertilizer industry creates 5 tons of radioactive phosphogypsum waste, which is stored in mountainous stacks hundreds of acres wide and hundreds of feet tall.”

Lawmakers urged Governor DeSantis to take further action against the mining operation itself, stating that this is just the latest in a long list of disastrous incidents involving this particular site and organization.

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