Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Old phosphate plant gushes contaminants into Tampa Bay

The millions of gallons of water gushing into Tampa Bay from the abandoned Piney Point phosphate plant contains high levels of a pollutant called cadmium, as well as enough nitrogen and phosphorus to potentially cause a harmful algae bloom and a fish kill, state Department of Environmental Protection officials announced Wednesday.

So far, no one knows the source of the cadmium or what damage it might cause, "but we will continue monitoring the discharge to determine if the cadmium continues to be present and what the source may be," said DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller. Their big concern now is stopping the leak.

Cadmium, a heavy metal, is used in metal plating and coating and is also found in rocks mined for phosphate fertilizer. Drinking water tainted with too much cadmium can lead to kidney problems and cancer.

The old Piney Point plant, built in 1966, sits across from Port Manatee about a mile from Bishop Harbor at the southeastern edge of the bay, near the Hillsborough-Manatee county line.

The DEP took over the plant in 2001 when the owners went bankrupt and walked away, but then had to drain millions of gallons of ammonia-laden waste from its mountainous gypsum stacks because of fears it would spill into the bay and devastate sea life for miles around. That led to a big algae bloom. More recently, as the port began dredging a shipping berth, a contractor hired to dump the spoil atop the Piney Point phosphogypsum stack notified DEP officials that something had gone wrong, apparently because the stack's liner had torn.

State officials feared the gypsum stack would collapse, dumping radioactive material and other contaminants into the bay. The DEP issued an emergency order May 28 to dump the liquid into ditches that flow into Bishop Harbor, but monitor it for harmful pollutants.

They estimate the amount atop the stack was 150 million gallons.

Old phosphate plant gushes contaminants into Tampa Bay 06/08/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 11:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. State Dept.: U.S. to block Americans from traveling to North Korea

    World

    The Trump administration plans to prohibit Americans from traveling to North Korea, the State Department announced Friday, citing serious risks of arrest and imprisonment in the isolated totalitarian state.

    Student Otto Warmbier, 22, died June 19 after being released from North Korea in a coma.
  2. Man dies after losing control of pickup in Dade City

    Accidents

    DADE CITY — A man died Friday after he lost control of his pickup truck through a bend in the road and collided with an oncoming car, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  3. Teens recorded drowning man and laughed, but face no charges

    Criminal

    Authorities say a group of teens who watched, laughed and made a video as a man drowned in a retention pond can be charged with failure to report a death.

    Jamel Dunn, 31, drowned July 9 in Cocoa.
  4. After huge sinkhole opens, residents weigh future with unease

    Public Safety

    LAND O'LAKES — The wood floors creak each time Kendra Denzik dashes inside her darkened home to grab fresh clothes. She can't help but panic when they do.

    Eleven families along Ocean Pines Drive in Land O’Lakes homes are fenced in due to the massive sinkhole from last Friday on Thursday, July 20, 2017. The Doohen’s are among 11 families who had to evacuate from their homes.
  5. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]