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Riverview man left threatening messages about Piney Point failure on FDEP line, authorities say

Chad Lynch, 35, was arrested Monday, two days after leaving voicemails that prompted the evacuation of a Florida Department of Environmental Protection office in Temple Terrace, an arrest report says.
This screen grab of a leaking holding pond at the old Piney Point phosphate plant was taken from a drone feed to the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center on Saturday. That same day, authorities say, 35-year-old Chad Lynch of Riverview left several threatening voicemail messages regarding the "Piney Point failure" for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, prompting authorities to evacuate an FDEP office in Temple Terrace. Lynch was arrested on Monday on three charges including making a false report of a bomb, explosive device or weapon of mass destruction.
This screen grab of a leaking holding pond at the old Piney Point phosphate plant was taken from a drone feed to the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center on Saturday. That same day, authorities say, 35-year-old Chad Lynch of Riverview left several threatening voicemail messages regarding the "Piney Point failure" for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, prompting authorities to evacuate an FDEP office in Temple Terrace. Lynch was arrested on Monday on three charges including making a false report of a bomb, explosive device or weapon of mass destruction. [ VIDEOPHOTOG PRODUCTIONS | Times ]
Published Apr. 6
Updated Apr. 6

TAMPA — A Riverview man was arrested Monday after leaving threatening voicemails about the Piney Point wastewater pond failure on a state phone line, prompting the evacuation of a Florida Department of Environmental Protection office in Temple Terrace, records show.

Chad Ryan Lynch, 35, called a public phone line listed for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection 14 times on Saturday and left voicemails “regarding the Piney Point failure,” according to an arrest report.

“During many of the voicemails, Lynch identifies himself and continually makes hostile threats toward the FDEP,” the report, written by a Florida Department of Environmental Protection special agent assigned to the case, states.

Chad Ryan Lynch, 35, of Riverview was arrested Monday, two days after he left several threatening voicemail messages for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection regarding the "Piney Point failure," according to an arrest report.
Chad Ryan Lynch, 35, of Riverview was arrested Monday, two days after he left several threatening voicemail messages for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection regarding the "Piney Point failure," according to an arrest report. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]

Law enforcement officials decided to evacuate the environmental department’s Temple Terrace office on Saturday “due to the voicemail threats made by Lynch,” according to the report. The number Lynch called is listed on the department’s website as the way to contact the “ombudsman and public services.”

On the day authorities say Lynch left the voicemails, officials were warning that a breach in a holding pond at the old Manatee County phosphate plant could cause a catastrophic collapse. They evacuated homes in the area and continued to release polluted water from the pond, much of it to Port Manatee on Tampa Bay.

Related: Confident in improvement at Piney Point, officials reopen U.S. 41

The specific nature of the threats was unclear Tuesday. A records custodian at the Hillsborough County jail who provided a copy of the arrest report redacted the portion containing statements made in the voicemail messages, citing an active investigation.

But the charges Lynch faces provide some clue. Records show he was arrested at his Riverview home on charges of making a false report of a bomb, explosive or weapon of mass destruction; corruption by threat against a public servant; and unlawful use of a two-way communications device.

Lynch was released from jail Tuesday morning after posting $11,500 bail.

The voicemail box for a number listed for Lynch was full Tuesday. A text message sent to the number did not immediately garner a reply.

Jail records list Lynch as self-employed in residential construction.