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RESTORATION PLAN FINALIZED FOR ESTUARY

More than a decade after millions of gallons of wastewater from a phosphate plant spilled into the Alafia River, the state, county and federal governments have finalized a restoration and protection plan for the river's estuary and nearby areas in Tampa Bay.

The state Department of Environmental Protection, the county Environmental Protection Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday that the efforts include restoring native vegetation such as mangroves and creating new oyster beds.

Fifty-five-million gallons of highly acidic water spilled into the river in December 1997 from the Mulberry Phosphate fertilizer plant in Polk County and caused a massive fish kill.

The company was ordered to pay $3.6-million in damages in 2002. That money will be used to fund the new projects.

The company later went bankrupt and the plant closed.

Log on to www.dep.state.fl.us/southwest to view the restoration plan.

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