, a former phosphate mining facility in Manatee County, Florida, is under 24-hour surveillance ahead of Hurricane Ian, CBS News has learned. The site made headlines last year when a massive leak was discovered in the lining of a plaster pile. The problem resulted in of wastewater that ended up in Tampa Bay and helped contribute to a devastating months-long event.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried told CBS News on Tuesday that she had spoken with Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection earlier in the day and that she does not foresee Hurricane Ian “will be a huge problem” given current forecasts.
“Based on the water currently in Piney Point, they can tolerate about 25 inches of rain. And because they think we’re going to get 12 to 15 inches of rain, they don’t see this as a huge problem,” Fried said.
Fried said the department had informed her that the water has been partially treated so that even if there is an overflow, “it won’t be a problem.”
However, the treatment of that water, she told CBS News, is something she “never had complete confidence in.”
The site is monitored 24 hours a day, Fried said.
The state’s special site for Piney Point updates last released information on Friday, saying preparations will also include setting up backup pumps and adjusting water management levels. There is approximately 268 million gallons in the site’s reservoir.
According to the Manatee County evacuation maps, Piney Point is in evacuation zone B, meaning the area could see a potential 14-foot flood.
The province issued mandatory evacuations on Tuesday for those in zones A and B. Those in zone C have been advised to evacuate.
The state is more concerned with on-site construction equipment, which the department is busy “craving down” and moving off-site to keep heavy winds from turning the equioment into projectiles. A, approved in December, is under construction to hold the water in the reservoir, and the site is currently in the process of closing the southern compartment, according to the website. Part of the process involves sorting and shaping the area so it doesn’t accumulate rainwater.
“The secretary seems pretty confident that they will do the amount of rain right,” Fried said. “Of course if it were head-on with sustained 140mph winds that would be a problem. But since this is just potentially a rain event more than anything in that Piney point area, he was confident they would could hold out. the rain.”