Central Florida is under the imminent threat of a major environmental catastrophe as a result of ineffective and negligent leadership. According to the Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), several leaks were detected in the liner of the largest reservoir at the Piney Point phosphate plant, containing approximately 480 million gallons of wastewater. The surrounding destruction from this overflow has been monumental; A mandatory evacuation order was issued at the local and state level, affecting 300 homes, businesses, livestock along with a nearby two-story jail.
Jeff Bararrth, a Piney Point site manager, presented evidence to Manatee County commissioners on Feb. 2, 2021 showing this wastewater leak began in 2011.
Flooding is a major issue and the infrastructure at this site is deteriorating and worse, the waste material leaking into the water system is toxic and possibly radioactive. This week officials were dumping approximately 32 million gallons of toxic waste from the Piney Point facility through the Port of Manatee into Tampa Bay.
The FDEP approved the wastewater release into the Tampa Bay ecosystem in a desperate attempt to avoid a catastrophic failure of the phosphogypsum stack system at Piney Point that could put nearby development and ecosystems, such as Bishop Harbor, in jeopardy.
The lack of concern from current state leadership on our marine life, our environment and likely fueling algae growth (red tide), thus exacerbating the harm done to marine life, is unconscionable.
This alarming issue to our great state and its numerous waterways is a result of corporations operating with little to no oversight and are not held accountable by elected officials. This is also the result of corporate donations to politicians influencing and dictating policy. We must deter such unprincipled behavior and hold these corporations and politicians accountable. We must remedy this problem by electing trustworthy leaders that allow regulators to effectively do their job.
We are faced with an environmental crisis and Governor Ron DeSantis is withholding this vital information from the public. He has inexcusably withheld information regarding COVID-19 cases and is seemingly repeating this behavior with Piney Point’s radioactive wastewater. Florida deserves and demands honest leaders who are forthcoming regarding all issues, especially health and safety concerns of its residents.
We must protect our ecosystem. We must ensure that our waterways are maintained and up to the standard of the FDEP. I will continue to follow this issue and raise awareness to hold our elected officials accountable and responsible.