MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — A team from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now on site in Manatee County providing expertise and analysis as part of the unfolding emergency situation at the former Piney Point phosphate processing plant.
The crew will be doing an all-new independent assessment of the berm wall that Manatee County has reported is at "imminent" risk for collapse. The wall is struggling to hold back an estimated 300-million gallons of water in one of the largest retention ponds on site.
There are fears, a sudden failure of that pond could impact two others on site that contain more dangerous and contaminated process water from the previous phosphate mining on the site.
Manatee County administrators say they will have a much clearer picture of how much danger the community is in once the Army Corps analysis is complete.
Experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are also on hand in Manatee County working alongside the Florida Department of Environmental Protection which is the lead agency handling the situation.
A number of large pumps flown in at the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis are also expected to be online later tonight and will dramatically speed up the pumping of water out of the site and reduce pressure on the failing walls.
If that pumping is able to proceed as expected, county leaders project the worst of the danger could be over in two to three days.
It will be a race against time to get the water removed as drones using temperature sensing technology have detected several spots in the wall that water appears to be flowing through, increasing the risk for collapse.
Stay will 10 Tampa Bay with updates on this developing story.
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