PINEY POINT - SUNCOAST WATERKEEPER ACTION AND POSITION
FDEP has yet to complete a comprehensive, statewide assessment plan on Florida's existing two dozen or more phosphogypsum stacks. These stacks remain as a toxic legacy of the phosphate industry. Each phosphogypsum stack carries with it the risk of creating another Piney Point environmental and financial fiasco.
Over 2 years ago the alarm was sounded - "The contaminated water stored at Piney Point certainly raises the question: Can a limited liability corporation such as HRK Holdings adequately manage and operate Piney Point in an environmentally sound manner? Right now, the answer appears to be no. "( The Bradenton Times, Glenn Compton, Sunday, Dec 09, 2018)
The current failure at the Piney Point facility owned by HRK was preventable. FDEP knew of the failures of the liner not only at Piney Point but at other phosphogypsum stacks. FDEP failed to protect the environment so many of us work hard to protect.
Our community and environmental organizations need assurances by the State of Florida, our Governor, and the Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Senate and the House that this failure will be handled promptly with the utmost caution and assurances that future failures will be averted by enlightened leadership
This disaster was preventable. Permit conditions were ignored, water accumulation was not addressed when state funds were available to remedy the conditions.
As Waterkeepers we work hard to ensure our community rights are protected for clean waters, for fishable waters, for boatable waters and also drinkable waters. We have been greatly disappointed that the rights of the people of Florida have been jeopardized by the failure of our State.
WHAT WE ARE DOING:
- March 31, Suncoast Waterkeeper and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper provided members of the press and public officials access to the waters adjacent to Port of Manatee where the Piney Point Gyp Stack wastewater was released. We had two shallow draft boats making the trip to Port Manatee from the Manatee County Rest Area on the south end of the Skyway Bridge.
- Monday April 5, 2021 4PM Suncoast Waterkeeper held an opportunity for members of the press to speak with local Coast Guard Licensed Sportfishing Guides about the ongoing crisis at Piney Point as well as water quality concerns, seagrass loss and habitat destruction.
- On April 5th at 8PM an emergency meeting of the Suncoast Waterkeeper and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper boards was held to discuss the Piney Point/HRK emergency discharge into the waters of the Tampa Bay Estuary. We are providing a joint statement on the call for action on phosphogypsum stacks endangering the coastal habitats in Florida.
- April 6th 1PM SCWK and TBWK took the press and the founder of Captains for Clean Water out to Port Manatee with 2 boats.
- April 6th Pictures of red waters along the shores by the rest area were forwarded to the press and Tampa Bay National Estuary.( possible first bloom)
- April 7th Suncoast Waterkeeper and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper send out a joint press release on actions requested from the State.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS IN THE WATER?
The current discharge of water far exceeding water quality standards for the Tampa Bay Estuary is delivering mainly excess nitrogen and phosphorus to Bay waters. According to FDEP the water is not radioactive above normal levels since their is radioactivity in almost everything even bananas. FDEP states "The water meets water quality standards for marine waters with the exception of pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen and total ammonia nitrogen. It is slightly acidic, but not at a level that is expected to be a concern. "
IS THE WATER HARMFUL?
Both nutrients are known to fuel harmful algae blooms such as red tides.