Piney Point

Powerful, sustained winds are rare this time of year in Florida, and that means the polluted water that spilled from the Piney Point phosphate plant last month is likely to linger in Tampa Bay for months, a USF ocean physicist said Wednesday.

“Every time the tide sloshes to the north or to the south, this plume is going to spread a little bit more to the north and to the south,” said Bob Weisberg, a professor of physical oceanography at the College of Marine Science at USF.

The state expects to put more than $115 million toward closing the site of a former phosphate plant where a reservoir leak set off a wastewater crisis in Manatee County.

Gov. Ron DeSantis also said Tuesday investigators are working to determine if legal action can be taken against HRK Holdings, the owner of the old Piney Point site.

Crews at the former Piney Point phosphate plant in Manatee County have installed a steel plate at the site of a leak that has spewed millions of gallons of wastewater from the reservoir over the last week.

According to a Saturday release from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the plate is a temporary repair, and crews will monitor its success while determining whether there are any other separations in the liner.

On Friday, officials said polluted water is no longer being discharged into Tampa Bay at Port Manatee.

Scientists will be paying close attention to water quality data as they work to determine the environmental impacts that polluted discharges from the Piney Point phosphate plant have had on Tampa Bay.

But some of the most important data about nitrates and phosphates takes time to process, researchers say.

A team of scientists from the USF College of Marine Science on Wednesday took a vessel into Tampa Bay to study the area and bring back water samples.

The owner of a leaking reservoir at a former phosphate plant, which forced the discharge of millions of gallons of polluted water into Tampa Bay is not solely to blame for the environmental disaster, environmental groups say.

The state failed to properly oversee the property years ago, a joint statement from Tampa Bay Waterkeeper and Suncoast Waterkeeper said.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has brought in two technology companies to try to remove — or reduce — the levels of nutrients from the wastewater at the Piney point phosphate plant in Manatee County before it reaches Tampa Bay.

In a news release Wednesday, officials said more than 38 million gallons of wastewater a day are being removed from the pond by pumps and other methods.

So far, about 173 million gallons have been discharged into the bay, with about 258 million gallons still left in the reservoir, according to the release.

Environmental officials are closely monitoring the water quality near Piney Point in Manatee County where hundreds of millions of gallons are being discharged into Tampa Bay.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been publishing water quality samples from 11 areas near the discharge site and further out into the bay.

Now that a mandatory evacuation order has been lifted and a major roadway is open, optimism remains high that crews will be able to contain a leak at the Piney Point processing plant in Manatee County.

At a press conference Tuesday, officials said more than two dozen pumps are pumping out around 100 million gallons of wastewater each day — much higher than earlier levels.

Senate To Consider $200 Million Budget Proposal For Piney Point Cleanup

Apr 6, 2021

With work continuing to prevent a potentially catastrophic collapse of a reservoir wall, the Florida Senate will consider a budget amendment Wednesday to spend as much as $200 million to clean up the site of a former phosphate plant in Manatee County.

Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, said early Monday evening that the money would be used to clean up and close hazardous phosphogypsum stacks, a byproduct of phosphate production, at the Piney Point site.

An evacuation order that was issued near the site of the Piney Point processing plant in northern Manatee County has been lifted as officials expressed optimism the reservoir will not breach.

The lifting of the evacuation order Tuesday afternoon affected residents living and working near the former phosphate processing plant.

In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, Manatee County officials say data "shows diminished risk for outlying areas."