Florida Department of Environmental Protection Update on Piney Point

July 8, 2024
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July 5, 2024 update from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on the Piney Point closure.

Background on Florida Department of Environmental Protection Actions at Piney Point

In March 2021, site engineers identified a leak in the liner of the Piney Point (Manatee County, Florida) reservoir pond. At that time, Piney Point Pond stored millions of gallons of water previously polluted by a long-abandoned phosphate mining operation.

Proactively responding to concerns that the leak could become a complete breach, potentially flooding residential and commercial areas and the nearby Manatee County Jail, 200 million gallons of water were pumped into Tampa Bay.

Since that time, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has continually updated the public on the strategic actions of the full Piney Point closure plan.

Seeking to expedite and ensure the proper completion of the closure of the former facility, FDEP requested the appointment of a court-appointed receiver to oversee the closure of the site and manage day-to-day site activities. On Aug. 25, 2021, a judge in the Manatee County Circuit Court issued an order appointing this independent third party. DEP continues to work closely with the receiver to ensure continued progress toward closure.

The content below is provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and is the most-recent update issued.

July 5, 2024 Piney Point Update from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection

The court-appointed receiver continues to remove the soft materials (associated with the previous Port Manatee Berth 12 dredging project) from the NGS-South compartment. More than 151,000 cubic yards have been removed for dewatering and consolidation to date.

The NGS-North compartment is also being prepared for closure. As a result of the progress in water management, this compartment is no longer being actively used for water storage. This has enabled the receiver to reduce the crest elevation (top of the compartment), which is necessary as part of the ongoing closure preparation.

DEP will continue performing its stringent regulatory oversight of the site to ensure this is the last chapter in the long history of Piney Point. DEP is committed to working with the court-appointed receiver to ensure that progress toward closure is made as expeditiously as possible. 

Note: DEP will continue to maintain updates on closure progress on its public webpage. Email status updates for subscribers are now sent on a quarterly basis. The next update will be sent in October 2024. Real-time updates will also be transmitted as needed.

Key status updates and response activities (bolded language reflects changes): 

  • The site has received approximately 24 inches of rain so far this year.
  • The current storage capacity for additional rainfall at the site is approximately 79 inches. This capacity is expected to change with rainfall amounts and adjusted water management activities at the site. 
  • To date, 209,907,676 gallons have been transferred for disposal in Manatee County’s UIC well along Buckeye Road. This project is one critical element of the necessary water disposal that will enable the ultimate closure of the former Piney Point site once and for all, permanently eliminating the threat from this site to the environment and the community. 
  • Approximately 176 million gallons are currently held within the NGS-South compartment. This current water level is the result of the ongoing dredging work to dewater and consolidate the soft sediments in the NGS-South compartment. Pond level readings are expected to fluctuate due to a host of factors, including wind and associated waves in the pond, rainfall, and water management activities. 

Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and closure activities at FloridaDEP.gov.

Contact: DEP Press Office, 850-245-2112, DEPNews@FloridaDEP.gov

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