"Florida Crisis Highlights a Nationwide Risk From Toxic Ponds"

"Thousands of open-air waste pools near power plants, mines and industrial farms can pose safety dangers from poor management and, increasingly, the effects of climate change."

"They are ponds the size of city blocks: Wastewater pits that hold the hazardous byproducts of coal. Lagoons brimming with diluted pig excrement. Vast pools atop stacks of radioactive tailings.

The risks posed by pools of waste like these, a common feature at thousands of industrial and agricultural sites across the country, have been brought into sharp relief by a giant wastewater pond in Piney Point, Fla., that in recent days had appeared in danger of catastrophic failure.

Officials on Monday said the threat of collapse had passed and residents were allowed to return home after an emergency effort had pumped millions of gallons of water out of the pond and into local waterways. The environmental effects of such a large release of contaminated water remained unknown. This past weekend, the specter of a deluge had prompted the authorities to evacuate hundreds of people from their homes.

Open-air ponds are vital to major industries, like livestock and power generation. But environmental groups say they pose major environmental, health and safety risks, whether from mismanagement, or, increasingly, from the effects of climate change."

Hiroko Tabuchi reports for the New York Times April 6, 2021.

Source: NYTimes, 04/09/2021