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Conservation groups sue over Piney Point pollution

Conservation groups went to federal court in Tampa June 24 to file their lawsuit over the release of 215 million gallons of pollutants from the defunct Piney Point phosphorus plant into Tampa Bay and Manatee County groundwater.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, Suncoast Waterkeeper, ManaSota-88 and Our Children’s Earth Foundation sued Gov. Ron DeSantis, the acting secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, HRK Holdings LLC and the Manatee County Port Authority in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida.

The lawsuit alleges that Piney Point is an ongoing threat to public health and the environment due to:

  • The discharge of 215 million gallons of toxic wastewater into Tampa Bay, which is now experiencing harmful algae blooms and fish kills;
  • The threat of catastrophic failure of its impoundments and/or stack system;
  • The site’s failing liners;
  • Violations of groundwater-quality standards and evidence that dangerous levels of pollution have migrated into the aquifer;
  • The choice of a high-risk wastewater disposal method called deep-well injection to store hazardous waste.