Kriseman places top sewer officials on unpaid leave
Mayor Rick Kriseman, whose administration is now the subject of a state probe and a possible federal investigation, has placed his Water Resources Director Steve Leavitt and Engineering Director Tom Gibson on unpaid administrative leave.
The news came minutes after Gov. Rick Scott ordered the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to investigate the city's sewage dumps and spills, which total 151 million gallons after Hurricane Hermine.
Congressman David Jolly has asked for a U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency probe into the damage caused by the spills and who is responsible.
Gibson signed the task order for a 2014 study that warned the city's sewer system might not be able to handle the closure Albert Whitted, the waterfront sewer plant. That plant's 2015 shuttering was quickly followed by spills and dumps since August 2015 that total nearly 200 million gallons.
Leavitt ran the department that oversaw the city's three wastewater treatment plants.
Public Works Administrator Claude Tankersley named John Palenchar as Leavitt's replacement. Palenchar, formerly the environmental compliance manager, ran the city's testing program after sewage releases.
Brejesh Praymar will replace Gibson. Praymar was a senior engineer for the city.
Both Palenchar and Praymar have been named interim replacements.
"The mayor will address City Council tomorrow on the status of an independent review, the management study of Water Resources, and the plan for these individuals going forward," wrote Kriseman spokesman Ben Kirby in a statement,