Apr 14, 2021

Piney Point to Permanently Close in Manatee County, Florida

After Manatee County, Florida, was under a state of emergency and home evacuations were in place, Piney Point is set to permanently close

water spill

State officials announced plans to fund the permanent closure of the former Piney Point fertilizer processing plant property.

A leak was discovered Apr. 2 at the wastewater pond located at Piney Point, a former phosphate plant. Officials warned about the potential for the reservoir's collapse to flood nearby areas, reported NPR.

This is a project that could cost upwards of $200 million, reported The Herald-Tribune.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited the Piney Point facility Apr. 13 to announce he has directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop the closure plan.

“We want this to be the last chapter of the Piney Point story,” said DeSantis in a statement, reported The Herald-Tribune. “This will ensure the state is moving forward with a thoughtful, scientific plan toward closure to avoid another chapter in this long history.”

Governor DeSantis also announced that he is redirecting $15.4 million from existing appropriations at DEP to be used for “innovative technologies” to pre-treat water at the site, according to the Florida DEP’s Protecting Florida Together program.

Senator Wilton Simpson showed the legislature’s support to supplement these efforts with future funding appropriations, starting with an estimated $100 million in the coming fiscal year, reported Florida DEP’s Protecting Florida Together program.

Other response activities, according to Florida’s DEP, include: 

  • Discharges to Port Manatee remain ceased;
  • Approximately 222 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment, so elevation and volume will likely fluctuate as innovative technologies are deployed to initiate water treatment; 
  • DEP will use its interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impact and these results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available; 
  • There are no reported fish kills in the area; And
  • The department remains fully engaged in first response activities and is diligently monitoring conditions at the site. 

According to Florida’s DEP, a low-level flow was observed from the concentrated seepage area on the east wall of NGS-South compartment and dive crews immediately arrived on-scene. The crews went in the water to confirm that the plate placed over the liner seam separation has remained secured and no other leaks are identified.

The Senate put $3 million into its proposed budget (SB 2500) to start cleaning up the Piney Point site, reported The Herald-Tribune. Similar funding has not been included in the House plan. 

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