Manatee County Commission declares state of emergency due to Piney Point

There are fears the leak could lead to a potential collapse
A reported and regulated wastewater spill is going into the Tampa Bay from Piney Point through...
A reported and regulated wastewater spill is going into the Tampa Bay from Piney Point through Port Manatee and into the bay.(wwsb)
Updated: Apr. 1, 2021 at 4:20 PM EDT
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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - The Manatee County Commission voted unanimously to declare a state of emergency due to the liner tear at the phosphorous stack at the former phosphate plant on Piney Point.

Crews discovered a leak last week and have been actively monitoring water capacity at the former phosphate mining site. HRK Holdings, LLC, is responsible for the operation of the closed phosphogypsum stacks, and they self-reported after finding a tear in one of the compartments. The leak, it was determined, could cause a dangerous collapse of the gypsum stacks on site.

An uncontrolled breach is not imminent but, if the conditions of the stack worsen, nearby property owners could be impacted by the process water.

The Department of Environmental Protection says that HRK Holdings, the group who is responsible for the site, is still trying to stop the leak from a portion of the stack system at the site that was entering Piney Point Creek. And they’re hoping that it’ll be fixed and the stack stabilized long before the authorized dump limit of 480 million gallons is reached.

A spokesperson for HRK Holdings became emotional during the meeting, apologizing for the issues that the leaked had caused the community.

The emergency declaration adopted by the Board states:

  • Engineers cannot predict with absolute certainty the location or severity of contaminated water releasing resulting in hazardous impacts; and
  • Any contaminated water release in unplanned large amounts can result in injuries, damage to public and private property, and may result in first responders and government agencies intervening to protect lives, property and the environment, and to reduce impacts to utilities, public buildings, communication systems, transportation systems, and infrastructure.

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