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Busch Gardens sinkhole spills millions of gallons of wastewater, environmental agency says

A sinkhole opened at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Florida draining millions of gallons of water from a wastewater treatment pond.

Employees at the theme park discovered the sinkhole, measuring 15 feet in diameter, early on Nov. 18, 2023, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or DEP.

The sinkhole opened in the last of three ponds in the park's on-site wastewater treatment facility. Upon discovering the sinkhole in the last pond, the park closed off the water flow from the other ponds, but not before an estimated 2.5 million gallons of wastewater drained out through the sinkhole.

The final pond where the sinkhole was discovered stores water previously treated and cycles it through a disinfectant filter, the DEP said. Therefore, the water drained through the sinkhole was not raw sewage.

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Environmental agency continue to investigate sinkhole

Still, the DEP said they are sampling the water on site, and a professional geologist is among the DEP staff onsite monitoring the situation and Busch Gardens' Response.

Busch Gardens did not immediately respond to USA TODAY's request for comment, but shared the following statement with the Tampa Bay Times:

“The opening drained the pond of water underground. Water levels are monitored 24x7 and we were alerted to the issue as water levels began to slowly drop in the morning (on Nov. 18).”

The DEP said it is investigating the potential for regulation violations. It will also review the sinkhole remedial plan, " to ensure it is protective of the environment and public health and safety."

Tribes do their part to keep air clean.Now, they want to make sure pollution from afar doesn't put that at risk.

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