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Waterkeepers explain the current red tide bloom and say Piney Point exacerbated it

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 4:29 PM EDT
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MANATEE COUNTY Fla. (WWSB) - Did Piney Point lead to recent red tide issues in Sarasota and Tampa Bay?

Dr. David Tomasko of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program spoke at the Bradenton Yacht Club Friday morning. While he said that the Piney Point phosphogypsum leak did not cause the red tide or Lyngbya algae bloom in the area, the presence of the runoff certainly exacerbated the situation.

“It was loading the system with 200 tons of nitrogen at a time of year when we don’t have other nutrient source. Yes, that definitely exacerbates the situation and expression of red tide we’re seeing in Tampa Bay,” Dr. Tomasko explained.

Some other locals expressed their concern that during a recent press conference, “it seemed that Governor Ron DeSantis placed more blame on Hurricane Elsa and downplayed Piney Point.”

The Governor’s office did respond saying that, “ I think there may be a mischaracterization of what Governor DeSantis said at his press conference.” In the conference, Governor Ron DeSantis stated, “If you looked at the map then, and leading up until Elsa clearly Elsa pushed more of the blooms into Tampa bay and led to some really intense events.”

Governor Ron DeSantis went on to state, “We’ve got some of the best people in our state studying this, and they have the resources and backing of the state government to be able to do the best we can.”

As of now, both the Mote Marine report and reports from Sarasota County show minor effects from red tide in the area.

ABC7 has reached out to HRK Holdings, the owners of the phosphogypsum stacks at Piney Point and have received no response.

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