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Progress is made on closing the troubled Piney Point phosphate plant stacks

One of the ponds atop the phosphogypsum stack is almost empty of water. That should prevent a repeat of the 2021 release of polluted water into nearby Tampa Bay.

There has been a lot of progress in the long-awaited closure of the troubled Piney Point phosphate plant along Tampa Bay. One of the four ponds on top of the site is could be empty by the end of this week.

Herb Donica can see the end of Piney Point — just give it a little more time, he said. Donica is the court-appointed receiver in charge of closing the old phosphate gypsum stacks, which suffered a tear in 2021 that resulted in the release of more than 200 million gallons of polluted water into Tampa Bay.

In April, an injection well was dug that will place much of that water deep below the drinking water aquifer. By the end of this week, Donica said they will have disposed of 70 million gallons.

Heavy algae growth from recent rains and summer sun is slowing things down a bit. But Donica said they're still ahead of schedule.

"We're pretty much clicking along every day at 700,000 gallons a day on a well that's designed for a million gallons a day," he said. "But we've throttled it down to be able to handle the algae issue carefully and safely."