Who has been remiss in the Piney Point mess? Plenty of people and especially the Department of Environmental Protection. And one more time, the DEP. And we could ask also, why did Manatee County allow the gypstack to be built in the first place?
Strong words from DEP rep Alexandra Kuchta below and we hope she can keep her promise. Based on the DEP’s history here, hope is faint.
Read the original article here in the Tampa Bay Times.
Also read the Center for Biological Diversity’s press release here.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Environmentalists File Federal Lawsuit in Piney Point Disaster
The lawsuit asks a federal judge to oversee the clean-up and closure of the old Manatee County fertilizer plant.
As promised, a consortium of environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against public officials and a private owner they blame for the Piney Point disaster that saw 215 million gallons of polluted water pumped into Tampa Bay.
The lawsuit asks a federal judge to oversee the clean-up, closure and investigation of the old Piney Point fertilizer plant site in Manatee County and ensure the phosphogypsum stacks and wastewater are properly disposed of before an “uncontrolled release of hazardous and radioactive pollution.”
The lawsuit names Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Shawn Hamilton (who took over earlier this month), the Manatee County Port Authority and the property’s owner, HRK Holdings, LLC.
The phosphogypsum and wastewater there remains an “imminent and substantial endangerment to health and the environment,” according to the lawsuit filed in the Middle District of Florida by the Center for Biological Diversity, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, Suncoast Waterkeeper, ManaSota-88 and the Our Children’s Earth Foundation.
“The Piney Point disaster is Exhibit A in a long list of Florida’s failures to protect our water and wildlife from the harms of phosphogypsum,” said a statement from Jaclyn Lopez, the Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The lawsuit asks a court to ensure Piney Point is cleaned up in accordance with the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a 1976 law that governs how hazardous waste is disposed of in the U.S., and to end the threat to people and animals, including species such as manatees and sea turtles.
The Manatee County Port Authority said Thursday it does not comment on pending litigation. The Department of Environmental Protection did not offer comment and the governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The owner of HRK Holdings did not respond to a text message seeking comment.
“While we cannot comment on pending litigation,” she said, “what I can tell you is the department is committed to holding HRK Holdings Inc. and all involved parties accountable for this event, as well as ensuring the closure of this site once and for all so that this is the final chapter of Piney Point.”