Florida lawmakers consider using $200M in federal stimulus money to close, clean up Piney Point

Manatee County

PALMETTO, Fla. (WFLA) — The immediate danger of a total collapse of the Piney Point gypsum stack appears to be over.

The evacuation order for more than 300 hundred homes and businesses has been lifted, and U.S. 41 is also back open to traffic.

More than two dozen pumps are working to drain the contaminated wastewater from the gypsum stack reservoir to prevent the breach from growing. Officials will continue to monitor the situation as Florida lawmakers consider spending $200 million on a permanent solution.

Despite the encouraging news, concerns surrounding the gypsum stacks at Piney Point are nothing new. Some residents are frustrated with county commissioners for not doing something about them sooner.

County commission chair Vanessa Baugh stressed that local government did not create the situation at Piney Point, but residents we talked with today feel they should have done more to keep it from turning into a crisis situation.

County commissioners approved deep well injection as a long term solution to the contaminated water supply at piney point. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection says it is committed to putting an end to this facility and says it will immediately start working with permitting.

Senate Bill 2500 passed off the Senate Floor Wednesday. The Florida Senate adopted an amendment to SB 2500: Appropriations, which would provide $3,000,000 in nonrecurring general revenue funds for the Piney Point Emergency Water Treatment Project.

Senator Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) and Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Tribly) announced Tuesday the Senate will consider a budget amendment to fund the complete cleanup and closure of the phosphogypsum stacks at Piney Point in Manatee County.

The Senate takes up Senate Bill 2500, the General Appropriations Act, on Wednesday.

The amendment will add Senator Boyd’s Local Funding Initiative #1155 to SB 2500, making the issue available for consideration when the Legislature finalizes the fiscal year 2021-22 budget later this month.

President Simpson has committed to utilizing funds from the American Rescue Plan to ensure full cleanup and restoration, which has been anticipated to cost and upwards of $200 million.

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