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Phosphate processing plants in the greater Tampa Bay region have caused some of Florida's worst environmental disasters. Accidents like the spill at the former Piney Point plant fill the history books in Florida.

Rainwater from Piney Point released into Tampa Bay

Photo of Piney_Point_gypstack
Center for Biological Diversity
Piney Point south gypstack

More water was released over the weekend from the troubled Piney Point phosphate plant into Tampa Bay. But this time, the water is not expected to impact the bay.

Rainwater is being removed from the Piney Point gypsum stacks in Manatee County as the plant is being readied for permanent closure.

The state Department of Environmental Protection says rainwater is being siphoned from a pond where it has collected over the past few months.

Officials say this is not like the phosphate process water that was released on a massive scale into Tampa Bay last year, which fueled algae outbreaks and likely contributed to red tide that killed untold numbers of fish and marine life.

Much of the hundreds of millions of gallons of phosphate process water that remains in the stacks is expected to be injected into an underground aquifer.

Scientists will take samples from around Tampa Bay to monitor possible impacts from the rainwater release. Environmental regulators say the pond will be modified so that it will no longer accumulate rainwater in the future.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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