Cate’s Corner: The Piney Point leak

Cate’s Corner

TAMPA (WFLA) – In this week’s Cate’s Corner, Keith Cate talks about the Piney Point disaster.

Here are his thoughts:

“This week engineers found the source of a leak at the closed Piney Point phosphate plant in Manatee County.  On April 1, 2021, the Manatee County Commission declared a local state of emergency due to a liner tear at the site. The leak caused a panic.

In part because the walls holding all that water are made from something called phosphogypsum, the radioactive waste left over during phosphate mining, formed as a by-product from producing fertilizer.

The leak could’ve caused the walls of the pond to collapse sending a 20-foot wall of water gushing through homes, businesses, and across everything else in its path on the way to Tampa Bay. 

Tonight, we can rest easier knowing the leak is found and a fix is underway.  Those who came to our rescue deserve our respect and appreciation.  We got lucky this time. But what about next time?

Maybe you’re like me… wondering not just about Piney Point… but if there’s a problem lurking in my neighborhood.  

I want you to know we here at News Channel 8 are working to hold those responsible accountable.  

Our 8 On Your Side Investigation has already found a paper trail between the owners of Piney Point and the state of Florida indicating they knew this kind of breach was possible more than a year ago. 

To find this leak and prevent a disaster 200-million gallons of contaminated water had to be pumped into Tampa Bay threatening marine life and risking algae blooms and the estimated cost for clean-up and permanent fix is around $200 million.

Yes, we averted a catastrophe this time.  But 8 on Your Side wants to know who’s to blame and what’s being done to prevent it from happening again, at Piney Point or anywhere else in Florida?”

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