Piney Point’s phosphate mess needs a new solution | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Wednesday’s letters to the editor.
This aerial view overlooks the site of the Piney Point wastewater release on Sunday in Palmetto.
This aerial view overlooks the site of the Piney Point wastewater release on Sunday in Palmetto. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Apr. 7
Updated Apr. 7

Try a different fix this time

1966-present: On the edge of disaster | April 6

Times staff writer Christopher O’Donnell’s review of the multiple Piney Point disasters and chronic mismanagement is well done. An old quote comes to mind: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Another approach is worthy of consideration since the old road is paved with failure. Condemn the properties. Place them under stewardship of a consortium of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. Convene a panel of scientific experts to review the issues and develop plans to restore and rehabilitate the property, if at all possible as a natural area for public use.

Funding is critical. Fining the offending parties will help but will be insufficient to deal with the problems. Alternatives such as a tax on the mining and chemical processing for the fertilizer is a potential source as well as levies on boat fuel and dockage. Perhaps the site has Superfund written all over it. This is a Tampa Bay and Florida problem. We need to take aggressive action and have all hands on deck. We have spent time, talent and treasure in putting Tampa Bay on a road to great habitat and water quality improvement. It is time to resolve the Piney Point mess. Two fundamental ecological principles are at play: “Everything is connected, and everything goes somewhere.” This is not the time to kick the can down the road.

Walt Jaap, St. Petersburg

Didn’t happen overnight

Leak is seen as disaster for bay | April 6

The unscientific, disastrous response to COVID-19 and the Piney Point phosphate plant dangerously contaminating Tampa Bay did not occur in a vacuum. They relate to more than two decades of Florida government public health neglect. Compromised were public health programs and environmental health authority. Human resources were eroded. Politicizing agencies responsible for protecting Florida communities is coming home to roost. The solutions lie in fortifying public health agencies and eliminating political cronies from positions of authority. Until Florida government makes a serious commitment to trained professionals who meet their responsibilities without political interference, such community threats will continue. Florida remains among the top four states with COVID-19 cases and deaths. Superfund money should have resolved Piney Point issues years ago.

Marc Yacht, Hudson

The writer is the retired director of the Pasco County Health Department.

Taxpayers again will clean up the mess

Leak is seen as disaster for bay | April 6

It looks like once again the Florida taxpayer will be on the hook to clean up another disaster due to no oversight of corporate greed destroying the environment. The disaster in Manatee County is just the latest example. The Republicans want very limited or no oversight, which allows this to happen. In the meantime, we seem to keep electing politicians who are in the pocket of big business, which will continue to let this keep happening. We have overbuilt and created the monster. Until we start electing responsible politicians who truly have the people’s best interest in mind, this will continue. My only hope is that we collectively wake up and start acting responsibly.

James Harazin, St. Petersburg

Doing the wrong thing

Pasco County ends mask order | April 6

I find it rich when politicians like Pasco Commissioner Jack Mariano say the people and businesses of Pasco County “can now use their own personal responsibility to make decisions.” If the last year has proven anything, when given the choice of doing the right thing, Americans will not. Wearing a mask to slow a 100-year pandemic, that has killed more than 550,000, has been just too much too ask. Who doesn’t remember the Nathan Hale quote of “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country, just as long as it doesn’t require me to wear a mask!” This country has gone from the Greatest Generation to the “You are not the boss of me” generation in 75 years.

Terrence Callahan, Crystal Beach

Personal irresponsibility

Pasco County ends mask order | April 6

If it worked to leave people to their “personal responsibility” to keep themselves and each other safe, we would not need things like seat belt laws, speed limits, anti-texting laws, DUI laws or even a police department. I personally would feel a lot safer going out and spending money in places where people are wearing masks and/or have been vaccinated.

Holly Wilke, Port Richey

Plenty to fix in Florida first

Rubio slams efforts to bring corporations into fight over GOP voting rights legislation | April 3

Why does Florida Sen. Marco Rubio care about the controversy surrounding the Major League Baseball all-star game being moved from Atlanta — which is in Georgia, after all? Rubio works for the people of Florida. Doesn’t he have enough work to do here?

Brian Valsavage, St. Petersburg