MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – In Manatee County a huge phosphogypsum stack at Piney Point is posing a big problem. The stack has been at the location since the 1960s. Problems with discharges of contaminated water were first reported in the 1970s.
Now a new leak has been detected and more than 400 million gallons of highly contaminated wastewater could leak out or even burst out into the surrounding area.
“What happens when that thing tears lose and comes down Bud Road? What happens to our drinking water,” said lifelong area resident Ada McPherson who lives near Piney Point.
Justin Bloom with Sarasota River Keepers believes the contaminated water is an immediate threat to the area.
“Right now they are discharging into Piney Point Creek. Any amount of this water that goes to surface waters and into Tampa Bay is bad,” Bloom said.
Glen Compton with ManaSota-88 has been warning about problems with the Piney Point stack for years and believes there are no good solutions to the problem.
“Piney Point has a history of problems. Anything that can go wrong has gone wrong at this phosphogypsum stack,” Compton said. “There is no economically feasible or environmentally sound way to close this stack. There is a price that’s going to be paid. Hopefully, it’s not be done by the total annihilation of the environment of the surrounding area, but that’s a real possibility.”
A company managing the stack is currently pumping the contaminated water off the top of the stack to detect where the stack is leaking from. It’s not know how long the operation will last.