An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Piney Point cleanup, closure might take three years or longer

Shutting down the environmental threat to Tampa Bay is a complicated undertaking.

It could take until the end of 2024 or longer to shut down Piney Point, the troubled old fertilizer plant property that set off an environmental crisis last spring in Tampa Bay.

A plan released this week shows how complicated the path is for the state to meet its promise of eliminating the lingering environmental threat. Last year, a leak in a reservoir triggered the release of more than 200 million gallons of polluted water into Tampa Bay. Packed with nitrogen, the water likely fueled algae growth, scientists say, and may have worsened a toxic Red Tide that killed tons of fish.

Crews at Piney Point still need to drain hundreds of millions of gallons of water from reservoirs, among other tasks. In the meantime, a court-appointed receiver has taken daily control of the site. Workers have spent the last year trying to avoid another major leak or spill while pulling out nutrients from the wastewater so a second discharge, if needed, would hopefully be less harmful to the bay.