Piney Point Pollution Will Remain in Tampa Bay for Months, Experts Say

The polluted water that spilled from the old Piney Point phosphate plant in March is likely to stay in Tampa Bay for months. High sustained winds are what push water from a certain direction and cause waves. Such winds are rare during this time of the year in Florida. Scientists believe that in the absence of such winds, the polluted water is likely to linger in Tampa Bay for an extended period.

Robert H. Weisberg is currently a faculty member in the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida. Dr. Weisberg and his team are employing what is called the “Tampa Bay Coastal Ocean Model” to track the effluent evolution, or simply, the movement of water released from Piney Point into Tampa Bay.

The same model was also used in 2018 to forecast how the region would respond to Hurricane Irma. Bob Weisberg, while sharing his views on the issue, said:

“Every time the tide sloshes to the north or to the south, this plume is going to spread a little bit more to the north and to the south,” 

The model shows a lot of back and forth movement of water. It is not a quick dispersal. 

The polluted water, according to Weisberg, is moving south from Port Manatee. It can be traced as far south as the Manatee river with low concentrations of the effluent reaching the Gulf of Mexico and St. Petersburg. 

The impact of the spill is yet to be determined, but Weisberg and his team think that it will keep spreading out for months. A change in color of the water can already be seen. 

A spill that was years in the making

Such leaks at the long-abandoned Point Piney plant are nothing new. This is an issue that has haunted the region for about half a century now. The recent toxic spill was a continuation of what has become an all too familiar theme

The latest leak occurred due to a tear in the lining of one of the wastewater pools at the plant. The authorities had to declare a state of emergency and ask over 300 families living near the site to evacuate last week. 

The transfer of about 200 million gallons of water might have averted the crisis for now but the calls for a permanent solution are growing stronger. Given Piney Point’s history of threatening soil, groundwater, and local water supplies in the region, it is now more important than ever to fix this once and for all. 

Keeping your house clean 

The dispersal of contaminated runoff is hazardous to the environment, water and consequently, human health. Therefore, citizens must take measures to prevent its hazards. 

Pressure washing is one of the most effective ways to do it. Soft wash pressure washing systems effectively dissolve these nutrients, kill molds and harmful algae, and thoroughly wash surfaces without damaging them. 

For an issue this sensitive, it is advised to get professional help and contact the best pressure washing providers in the Tampa Bay area.

William S.

William focuses on local news, politics, and current events and he has 15 years of experience covering Florida news.  He can be reached with news and tips at william.s@floridabugle.com

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