"Looking at the water that has been removed and the somewhat stability of the current breach, I think the team is much more comfortable today than we were yesterday," Hopes said on Sunday, as quoted by WRAL-TV. "We are not out of the critical area yet," he nonetheless warned.
According to the country official, about 22,000 gallons of water are being pumped out of Piney Point per minute, as of Sunday, and the risk of a collapse at the site is expected to decrease by Tuesday. Hopes said that a full breach at Piney Point could lead to 240 million gallons of water leaking out, risking a 20-foot (6-meter) high wall of water.
According to Florida authorities, water at the Piney Point site is not radioactive, although it has high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen.
Florida Governor Ronald DeSantis announced a state of emergency in Manatee County on Saturday, after a break was detected in the wall of a large pond at the Piney Point plant.
Evacuation orders were issued as experts feared that the stacks of phosphogypsum (radioactive byproduct from manufacturing fertilizer) could collapse further, which could cause major flooding of nearby areas and spilling into the bay.
Today I joined state officials in Manatee County who are actively responding to Piney Point and deploying all necessary resources. Please follow @FLSERT and @FLDEPNews for updates and monitor local alerts and evacuation orders. https://t.co/ACdrUdOkpO pic.twitter.com/ayOGoLR3Oo— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 4, 2021
The Piney Point former phosphate mine started leaking contaminated water into the Gulf of Mexico in March.