Friday, June 3, 2011

Herald reporter uncovered Piney Point gusher

Kudos to Herald urban affairs reporter Toni Whitt for breaking the Piney Point story early this week. As she first reported in this story, the protective lining in a phosphogypsum stack at the old Piney Point facility has torn, allowing potentially contaminated seawater to gush from the site at up to 2,700 gallons a minute -- creating an “imminent threat,” state environmental officials acknowledge.

What they didn't acknowledge until Toni uncovered the news was that anything was even wrong. Officials apparently knew for weeks that there was a leak while dredge from Port Manatee was continually dumped there. As the Herald's editorial noted Thursday, had Toni not discovered the problem, we still might not know -- even though the state agency fears for human health and safety. (Although, as you can see from Tiffany Tompkins-Condie's photo above, it now is hard to miss.)

And that’s wrong.

The state DEP is testing the discharge for nitrogen, phosphorus, conductivity and chloride, and investigating how the tear happened and how to repair it. We will continue to dig for independent answers as well.

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