Evacuations have been ordered near a wastewater holding reservoir near Tampa, Florida, because of an “imminent” uncontrolled release of water, officials said, according to reports.
The evacuation order covers a half-mile radius south and a mile north of the abandoned Piney Point fertilizer plant wastewater holding reservoir, which could potentially dump hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater on the surrounding neighborhoods, FOX 13 of Tampa reported.
Phosphogypsum, a byproduct of fertilizer, is stored in the plant’s two stacks, as is industry practice. The water is also contaminated with metals like cadmium and is considered toxic to marine life.
A new leak was found in the east wall of the reservoir Friday afternoon and concern over a potential rupture has been growing in recent days.
Mitigation efforts have prevented a full breach but the situation was constantly changing, emergency officials said.
Environmentalists are reportedly concerned a breach could kill fish, exacerbate red tide and lead to algae blooms.
“The water meets water quality standards for marine waters with the exception of pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen and total ammonia nitrogen,” the state’s Department of Environmental Protection said in a statement, according to FOX 13. “It is slightly acidic, but not at a level that is expected to be a concern, nor is it expected to be toxic.”