Ron DeSantis Declares State of Emergency in Manatee County Over Piney Point Plant Leak

Over the Easter weekend, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in Manatee County as the closed Piney Point phosphate plant continues to leak and could lead to a collapse of wastewater.

DeSantis, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Sec. Noah Valenstein and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director (FDEM) Jared Moskowitz were all in Manatee County on Sunday.

“In addition, state agencies are coordinating resources both in Tallahassee and onsite to ensure proper response and mitigation of risks in Manatee County. DEP and FDEM are also working closely with the Florida Department of Health to mitigate any risks to public health, and are coordinating with the Florida Department of Transportation and Florida Highway Patrol on infrastructure and road closures,” the governor’s office noted.

“Our first priority is public health and safety. Teams on the ground are laser-focused on addressing this issue, and I have directed Secretary Valenstein to work with Manatee County and utilize all available resources to form a permanent solution to this longstanding issue,” said DeSantis. “I have also deployed the National Guard and they are in the process of dropping off additional pumps via aircraft on top of the berms, to help decrease the water levels in the Piney Point reservoir at an even faster pace. The state is committed to holding HRK and all involved parties accountable.”

“Our teams are working around the clock to mitigate risks and ensure emergency preparedness in the area that could experience flooding, should an uncontrolled breach occur. It is clear that this facility must be closed. I want to assure Floridians that we are dedicated to holding HRK accountable for this issue through enforcement action,” said Valenstein.

“At the division, we are sending every resource at our disposal to the site by truck, crane and helicopter. We have already deployed 20 pumps, 10 vacuum trucks and more than 100,000 bottles of water, with more on the way. I urge residents in the area to follow all warnings and evacuation orders from local officials as we do everything we can to keep you safe,” said Moskowitz.

“On March 26, 2021, there were approximately 480 million gallons in the impacted NGS-South compartment. As of this morning, the total quantity in the impacted compartment is approximately 306 million gallons. The state continues to work around the clock to make repairs and remove water from the compartment to prevent uncontrolled discharge into surrounding areas,” the governor’s office noted on Sunday.

More than 300 Manatee County residents are under an evacuation order.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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