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Large-Scale Evacuation Order Issued for Residents Near Tampa Bay: Massive Wastewater Reservoir Breach Imminent

Retaining walls at the damaged Piney Point Reservoir are on the brink of complete collapse Easter Sunday afternoon. What is being described as an imminent breach of the retaining walls at the reservoir is apt to cause a 20-foot wall of water cascading into the surrounding area in Manatee County near Tampa Bay. The potential catastrophic flooding is worsened by the reality that Piney Point Reservoir exists to contain toxic wastewater from a shuttered phosphate plant. A breach of retaining walls would release millions of gallons of contaminated water, specifically wastewater containing hazardous phosphorus and nitrogen.

Concerns regarding the dangerous nature of the polluted water heightened as the day wore on. There is evidence that the polluted water contains some level of radioactive material. Officials have not denied the presence of radioactive materials on the water; however, they have attempted to downplay the potential threat presented by the apparent presence of radioactive substances.

Although a complete collapse of retaining walls at Piney Point Reservoir had yet to occur by late Sunday afternoon, damage exists throughout the containment structure. As of mid-afternoon on Easter Sunday, an estimated 35 million gallons of toxic water has flown from breaks in the Piney Point Reservoir containment walls. If a complete collapse at the reservoir occurs, upwards to 600 million gallons of contaminated wastewater will rush across the surrounding area, again blasting towards homes and businesses in the form of a 20-foot wall of toxic water. Florida state officials monitoring the potentially catastrophic situation outside City of Tampa Bay advise that if the reservoir walls burst, hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic water will blast into the surrounding area in a matter of seconds.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of officials declaring the potential for an imminent collapse of the retaining walls. Initially, the Governor’s state of emergency included only Manatee County. By later Sunday afternoon, the Governor expanded the state of emergency to include neighboring Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. The evacuation zone around the reservoir was expanded Sunday afternoon as well.

Manatee County officials made it clear that the evacuation order must not be ignored by area residents and others in the demarcated evacuation zone. The word “imminent” continues to be used to underscore the prospect of a total confinement collapse at the wastewater reservoir.

Attempts to plug existing breaks in the reservoir containment structure have largely been unsuccessful. As a result, state environmental officials have started the process of a controlled release of wastewater into Tampa Bay at Port Manatee. The hope is that the controlled release of water into Tampa Bay will relieve some of the pressure on the containment structure at the reservoir.

Two pipes currently are pumping contaminated water into Tampa Bay at the rate of thousands of gallons per minute. Environmental officials currently contend that the controlled release of wastewater into the bay will have no real impact on the health and wellbeing of area residents. They state further that the introduction of wastewater into the bay should have little impact on marine life. The argument being made is that, at least for now, the contaminates in the wastewater are being significantly diluted when introduced into Manatee Bay.

As of late Sunday afternoon, 316 households had been fully evacuated from the target area. An unknown number of businesses are also impacted by the evacuation order.

Piney Point Reservoir is owned by a company called HRK Holdings. At this juncture, evidence suggests that this enterprise is the business primarily responsible for the state of affairs at Point Piney Reservoir. With that said, there exists information that other parties may also be responsible for what is occurring at Point Piney Reservoir this Easter Sunday.

If you are Point Piney Reservoir area home or business owner, you undoubtedly have questions about your legal interests in the event the wastewater breach worsens. The Doan Law Firm Legal team in Tampa is here for you at (813) 609-0000. We can schedule an appointment at your convenience with a chemical plant accident lawyer, a business insurance lawyer, a personal injury lawyer, or any other member of our firm to advise and assist with your particular needs.

Our offices are located conveniently at:

4830 West Kennedy Boulevard

Suite 600

Tampa, Florida 33609

There is no cost for an initial consultation. The Doan Law Firm makes an attorney fee promise to you. We never charge an attorney fee unless we win for you.

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