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As Piney Point's Future Becomes Clearer, Florida Matters Looks At Its Potential, Long-Term Impacts

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Manatee Public Safety
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Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that the state will come up with a plan to close the former phosphate plant for good after another leak late last month.

On this week’s Florida Matters, we’ll learn about the history of former Piney Point phosphate plant, what’s being done to fix its issues, and if there are similar sites in the region with the same problems.

In late March, a retention pond at the plant sprung a leak. More than 200 million gallons of wastewater spilled into Tampa Bay, which could create environmental problems in the long run.

Since then, the leak has been temporarily fixed. And on Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state will come up with a plan to close the site for good.

He’s directing about $15 million to the Department of Environmental Protection to shut down the facility and pretreat water if there are any more leaks.

DEP officials say they're preparing for possible litigation against Piney Point’s owner, HRK Holdings.

Piney Point has been a thorny issue for decades for Manatee County officials. The phosphate plant closed in the early 2000s. HRK Holdings went bankrupt after 2011 leak.

Host Bradley George speaks with Ryan Callihan, a reporter at the Bradenton Herald who has been covering issues related to Piney Point for several years.

You’ll also hear from Matthew Pasek, a professor of geoscience at the University of South Florida. George talks to Pasek about what he thinks the released wastewater will do to Tampa Bay's ecosystem.

You can listen to Bradley’s full conversations with Ryan and Matthew above by clicking on the “Listen” button. Or you can listen to the WUSF app under “Programs & Podcasts.”

Dinorah Prevost is the producer of Florida Matters, WUSF's weekly public affairs show.
Bradley George comes to WUSF from Atlanta, where he was a reporter, host, and editor at Georgia Public Broadcasting. While in Atlanta, he reported for NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and The Takeaway. His work has been recognized by PRNDI, the Georgia Associated Press, and the Atlanta Press Club. Prior to his time in Georgia, Bradley worked at public radio stations in Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina.