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USF launches research cruise to study Piney Point’s environmental impact

The research team will set out to answer how the wastewater will affect our environment and marine life.

TAMPA — The wastewater emergency at the former Piney Point phosphate plant in Manatee County has sparked a lot of questions.

The state of Florida says quality tests show there is a high amount of nutrients in the water, including phosphorous and nitrogen. And it's being released at a rate of about 23,500 gallons a minute, in an effort to avoid a larger uncontrolled collapse of the retention pond.

It remains unclear just how that water will affect our environment, ecosystems and marine life. But, scientists from the University of South Florida have set out to find answers.

A team from USF's College of Marine Science launched the first research cruise into Tampa Bay Wednesday to study the environmental impacts of the Piney Point reservoir release.