© 2023 | WUWF Public Media
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
850 474-2787
NPR for Florida's Great Northwest
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

State Putting $115 Million Toward Piney Point Leak

Florida Department of Environmental Protection

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.

Speaking at the site Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis also said investigators are working to determine if legal action can be taken against HRK Holdings, the owner of the old Piney Point site. Earlier this month, DeSantis declared an emergency in Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties as a leak in a reservoir forced an evacuation of nearby residents amid worries that a wall could collapse, leading to a flood of contaminated water.

While crews averted a potential catastrophe, DeSantis announced he is redirecting $15.4 million in Department of Environmental Protection dollars to pretreat water at the site in case additional controlled discharges are needed to reduce pressure in the reservoir.

“Rigorous water quality monitoring will continue so the state can assess any potential ecological impact from this event. This data will be used by DEP as they move forward with enforcement to hold HRK accountable.”

The Legislature is also expected to provide $100 million for the cleanup, with the hope that the DEP will be able to complete a closure plan for the site by the end of the year. A little more than 200 million gallons of wastewater was initially discharged toward Tampa Bay from the site. While the evacuation of residents has ended, concerns remain that the discharged wastewater could result in algal blooms and fish kills in area waters.