Florida authorities have sent emergency teams to stop a leak in the toxic dirty water reservoir, and evacuated residents of the surrounding area for fear of flooding.
Officials have evacuated 300 homes around the Tampa area and closed the motorway near the Penny Point reservoir.
On Saturday, Florida Governor Ron de Santis declared a state of emergency in the state.
On Sunday, he said the water is mainly “salty” and is the result of “dredging and accumulating rainwater.”
He added that it does not have nuclear radiation, as was raised before, and that the priority now is to prevent “devastating floods.”
Officials said the reservoir covers 31 hectares and contains millions of gallons of water containing phosphorous and nitrogen from an old phosphate mine.
Officials spotted the leak in a basin containing heaps of phosphogypsum, a radioactive substance from fertilizer industry waste.
Friday’s attempts to stop the leak by filling the gap with rocks and other materials were unsuccessful.
The declaration of a state of emergency allows for funds to be sent to send more pumps and cranes to the area.
On Sunday, de Santis said emergency workers, with the help of the state’s National Guard, were pumping water from the basin at a rate of 33 gallons per day.
Others are working to open pathways to control runoff.
Manatee County Administrative Officer Scott Hobbs said Saturday at a news conference that he feared the agricultural landscape would be flooded.
He added that the matter is related to “about 2.3 billion liters of water escaping from the reservoir in a few minutes to surround the area.”
On Sunday, however, he expressed some optimism and assured reporters that things would “improve a lot” on Tuesday, but warned that “we will not pass the danger stage.”
The Center for Biodiversity also called in a statement, the US Environmental Protection Agency to intervene.
“Federal officials have to step in to solve the problem. The fertilizer industry has flooded Florida residents. They should immediately stop producing more phosphogypsum,” said the center’s director in Florida, Jacqueline Lopez.