Piney Point Regional Notification

Piney Point

Piney Point Discharge Response

The department’s top priority is ensuring the protection of public safety and health and minimizing any potential environmental impacts.

On March 26, 2021, HRK submitted a report of process water bypassing the wastewater management system at the Piney Point facility, a former phosphate plant. The facility was releasing wastewater into Piney Point Creek which leads into Tampa Bay.

In response, the department issued an Emergency Final Order requiring that HRK take immediate action and implement all necessary steps to ensure the integrity of the stack system and its lined impoundments and prevent an uncontrolled discharge. The response includes controlled discharges of mixed seawater to maintain integrity of the stack.

Statewide DEP staff across divisions continue to coordinate on agency oversight and response to ensure public health and safety, and to minimize environmental impact. The department continues to monitor the situation 24/7 and will provide updates to this page to ensure prioritization of accountability and transparency to the public.

DEP is dedicated to full enforcement for any damages to our state’s resources and holding HRK accountable for this event.

DEP Lab

Water Quality Monitoring

DEP is coordinating with local stakeholders and we began water quality monitoring of Port Manatee on March 30, 2021 to protect human health and safety, and to transparently communicate with the public as this situation evolves. 

The water discharged from the NGS-South containment area at Piney Point is mixed sea water (primarily saltwater from the Port Manatee dredge project, mixed with legacy process water and stormwater runoff/rainfall). 

Statewide DEP staff across divisions continue to monitor and sample water quality in this area daily. This monitoring includes sampling to determine changes in salinity, dissolved oxygen, clarity, nutrient levels, turbidity, radionuclides and other variables that will determine any changes in baseline water quality status in this area. 

Water Quality Sampling Data

DEP Daily Updates

Current status updates will be made daily below, through DEP's Twitter account and emails.

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Manatee County Updates

Local information on public safety can be found on Manatee County's webpage.

Manatee County Information

Daily Updates

  • April 21, 2021

    Today, third-party engineers completed on-site microgravity surveys in the NGS-South compartment that allows further inspection of subsurface features that could warrant additional investigation.

    Key status updates and response activities: 

    • DEP has been methodically relocating water among the lined storage basins onsite to safely manage water, respond to rainfall events and prepare for water treatment. Water levels can be expected to fluctuate daily due to these water management activities, as well as evaporation.
    • Discharges to Port Manatee ceased April 9 and have not resumed at this time. It remains DEP's priority, if possible, to ensure any future necessary discharges are pre-treated to minimize ecological impacts.
    • Approximately 190 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment.
    • DEP continues to monitor and sample surrounding waterways following previous discharges. At this time, bloom conditions have been observed in the localized area of previous discharges. To date, results have ranged from non-detect to trace (0.38 ppb) levels of cyanotoxins. DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impact. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available.   
    • There are no reported fish kills in the area.
  • April 20, 2021

    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been methodically relocating water among the lined storage basins onsite to safely manage water, respond to rainfall events and prepare for water treatment. Water levels can be expected to fluctuate daily due to these water management activities, as well as evaporation.

    Key status updates and response activities: 

    • Discharges to Port Manatee ceased April 9 and have not resumed at this time. It remains DEP's priority, if possible, to ensure any future necessary discharges are pre-treated to minimize ecological impacts.
    • Approximately 190 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment.  
    • There have been no observed changes in the status of the detachment underneath the steel plate and the low-level flow remains contained within the on-site stormwater collection system.

    • DEP continues to monitor and sample surrounding waterways following previous discharges. At this time, bloom conditions have been observed in the localized area of previous discharges. To date, results have ranged from non-detect to trace (0.34 ppb) levels of cyanotoxins. DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impact. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available.   
    • There are no reported fish kills in the area.
  • April 19, 2021

    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is working closely with state meteorologists to monitor predicted weather events. Field operations teams continue making preparations to manage increased stormwater ahead of early week forecasts of rain and wind. 

    Teams also continue to monitor the small detachment underneath the steel plate around the clock using submerged equipment. There have been no observed changes in the status of the detachment. 

    Key status updates and response activities: 

    • Discharges to Port Manatee remain ceased. DEP is working rigorously to get innovative technologies up and running as quickly as possible. It remains DEP's priority, if possible, to ensure any future necessary discharges are pre-treated to minimize ecological impacts. 
    • Approximately 196.6 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment. Elevation and volume will likely fluctuate as innovative technologies are deployed to initiate water treatment. 
    • Today, DEP deployed an additional surveying and assessment tool. Third-party engineers arrived on-site to conduct microgravity surveys in the vicinity of the NGS-South compartment to further inspect subsurface features that could warrant additional investigation.
    • DEP continues to monitor and sample surrounding waterways following previous discharges. At this time, bloom conditions have been observed in the localized area of previous discharges. To date, results have ranged from non-detect to trace (0.34 ppb) levels of cyanotoxins. DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impact. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available.   
    • There are no reported fish kills in the area.
  • April 18, 2021

    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) continues to monitor the small detachment discovered underneath the steel plate placed over the liner seam separation on the east wall of the NGS-South compartment. Field operations teams are fully engaged in repair activities. There have been no observed increases in the flow rate and it remains contained within the on-site stormwater collection system. 

    Key status updates and response activities: 

    • Discharges to Port Manatee remain ceased. DEP is working rigorously to get innovative technologies up and running as quickly as possible. It remains DEP's priority, if possible, to ensure any future necessary discharges are pre-treated to minimize ecological impacts. 
    • DEP is making preparations to manage increased stormwater onsite ahead of early week forecasts of rain and wind.
    • Approximately 197 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment. Elevation and volume will likely fluctuate as innovative technologies are deployed to initiate water treatment. 
    • DEP continues to monitor and sample surrounding waterways following previous discharges. At this time, bloom conditions have been observed in the localized area of previous discharges. To date, results have ranged from non-detect to trace (0.34 ppb) levels of cyanotoxins. DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impact. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available.   
    • There are no reported fish kills in the area.
  • April 17, 2021

    Today, surface water samplers from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were onsite reviewing innovative technology sampling methods and protocols. It remains DEP's priority, if possible, to ensure any future necessary discharges are pre-treated to minimize ecological impacts.

    Key status updates and response activities: 

    • Discharges to Port Manatee remain ceased. DEP is working rigorously to get innovative technologies up and running as quickly as possible. 
    • DEP is making preparations to manage increased stormwater onsite ahead of early week forecasts of rain and wind.
    • Approximately 205 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment. Elevation and volume will likely fluctuate as innovative technologies are deployed to initiate water treatment. 
    • DEP continues to monitor and sample surrounding waterways following previous discharges. At this time, bloom conditions have been observed in the localized area of previous discharges. To date, results have ranged from non-detect to trace (0.34 ppb) levels of cyanotoxins. DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impact. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available.   
    • There are no reported fish kills in the area.

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate. 

  • April 16, 2021
    Dr. Ping Wang of USF's School of Geosciences utilizing bathymetry to survey the NGS-South.
    Dr. Ping Wang of USF's School of Geosciences utilizing bathymetry to survey the NGS-South

     

    Today, the University of South Florida's School of Geosciences began utilizing bathymetry in the NGS-South to survey and further assess the compartment.

    On Tuesday afternoon, a low-level flow was observed from the concentrated seepage area on the east wall of NGS-South compartment. Dive crews immediately arrived on-scene and identified a small detachment underneath the plate placed over the liner seam separation. At this time, the low-level flow rate appears to be consistent and repair efforts continue. 

    Key status updates and response activities: 

    • Discharges to Port Manatee remain ceased. The department is working rigorously to get innovative technologies up and running as quickly as possible. It is the department’s focus to ensure that, if possible, any future necessary discharges are pre-treated to minimize any ecological impacts.
    • DEP continues to monitor and sample surrounding waterways following previous discharges. At this time, bloom conditions have been observed in the localized area of previous discharges. To date, results have ranged from non-detect to trace (0.34 ppb) levels of cyanotoxins. DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impact. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available.   
    • Approximately 213 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment. Elevation and volume will likely fluctuate as innovative technologies are deployed to initiate water treatment. 
    • There are no reported fish kills in the area.

     

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate. 

  • April 15, 2021
    Ground penetrating radar at NGS-South
    Ground penetrating radar at NGS-South

     

    Chief Science Officer Dr. Rains (right) on-site working with DEP's geologists conduct ground penetrating radar.
    Dr. Rains working with DEP's geologists conduct ground penetrating radar

    The department remains fully engaged in first response activities and is diligently monitoring conditions at the site.

    On Tuesday afternoon, a low-level flow was observed from the concentrated seepage area on the east wall of NGS-South compartment. Dive crews immediately arrived on-scene and identified a small detachment underneath the plate placed over the liner seam separation. At this time, the low-level flow rate appears to be consistent. Assessment and repair efforts continue.

    DEP's Florida Geological Survey, in consultation with Dr. Mark Rains, DEP’s Chief Science Officer, is currently on-site completing ground penetrating radar to further assess the concentrated seepage.

    Key status updates and response activities: 

    • Discharges to Port Manatee remain ceased. The department is working rigorously to get innovative technologies up and running as quickly as possible. It is the department’s focus to ensure that, if possible, any future necessary discharges are pre-treated to minimize any ecological impacts.
    • Approximately 215 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment. Elevation and volume will likely fluctuate as innovative technologies are deployed to initiate water treatment. 
    • DEP continues to monitor and sample surrounding waterways following previous discharges. DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impact. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available.   
    • There are no reported fish kills in the area.

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate. 

  • April 14, 2021
    Dive Ops working to repair seal in Piney Point NGS-South
    Dive Ops working to repair seal in Piney Point NGS-South

     

    The department remains fully engaged in first response activities and is diligently monitoring conditions at the site.

    Dive Ops assessing low-level leak in Piney Point NGS-South
    Dive Ops assessing low-level leak in Piney Point NGS-South

    On Tuesday, at approximately 3:30 p.m., a low-level flow was observed from the concentrated seepage area on the east wall of NGS-South compartment. Dive crews immediately arrived on-scene and identified a small detachment underneath the plate placed over the liner seam separation. At this time, the low-level flow rate is consistent and not increasing. Crews continue to make progress in repairing the seal. No other leaks have been identified and the released flow has remained within the on-site stormwater collection system. 

    Key status updates and response activities: 

    • Discharges to Port Manatee remain ceased. The department is working rigorously to get innovative technologies up and running as quickly as possible. It is the department’s focus to ensure that, if possible, any future necessary discharges are pre-treated to minimize any ecological impacts.
    • Approximately 222 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment. Elevation and volume will likely fluctuate as innovative technologies are deployed to initiate water treatment. 
    • DEP continues to monitor and sample surrounding waterways following previous discharges. DEP's interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impact. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available.   
    • There are no reported fish kills in the area.

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate. 

  • April 13, 2021

    Press Conference with Governor Ron DeSantis

    Today, Governor DeSantis was joined by legislators, DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein and Manatee County officials at the Piney Point facility in Manatee County to announce next steps in the state’s response at Piney Point. The announcement included directing DEP to create a long-term plan for the closure of Piney Point, ensuring this will be the last chapter in the site’s long history. The Governor also directed DEP to take any and all legal actions to ensure HRK and any other actors are held fully accountable.

    The first step towards permanent closure is to ensure we are ready to take the next steps toward any necessary restoration and mitigation as quickly as possible. To that end, Governor DeSantis also announced that he is redirecting $15.4 million from existing appropriations at DEP to be used for innovative technologies to pre-treat water at the site.

    Senator Wilton Simpson expressed the legislature’s support to supplement these immediate actions with future funding appropriations, starting with an estimated $100 million in the coming fiscal year.

    Key status updates and response activities: 

    • Discharges to Port Manatee remain ceased.
    • Approximately 222 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment. Elevation and volume will likely fluctuate as innovative technologies are deployed to initiate water treatment. 
    • DEP continues to monitor and sample surrounding waterways following previous discharges. DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impact. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available.   
    • There are no reported fish kills in the area.
    • The department remains fully engaged in first response activities and is diligently monitoring conditions at the site. At approximately 3:30 p.m., a low-level flow was observed from the concentrated seepage area on the east wall of NGS-South compartment. Dive crews immediately arrived on-scene and are currently in the water confirming that the plate placed over the liner seam separation has remained secured, and no other leaks are identified.

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate. 

    Dive Crew on-site at Piney Point
  • April 12, 2021
    Dive Ops at NGS-South
    Dive Ops at NGS-South

    Severe weather passed through the Piney Point site, on Sunday, April 11, 2021, producing approximately 2.8 inches of rain and strong winds. At this time, there is no identified damage as a result of the recent storm system. The steel plate repair remains sealed at the seam separation and will continue to be monitored.

    Key status updates and response activities:  

    • Discharges to Port Manatee remain ceased.
    • 221 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment.
    • Piezometers (pictured below) are installed below ground surrounding the NGS-South to detect changes in water pressure within the stack system. This is part of ongoing monitoring in place to help ensure integrity of the stack system. 
    • DEP continues to monitor and sample surrounding waterways following previous discharges. DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impact. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available.
    • There are no reported fish kills in the area.

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate. 

     

    Piezometer - East Berm of NGS-South
    Piezometer - East Berm of NGS-South
  • April 11, 2021
    Northeast Stormwater Drainage Area
    Northeast Stormwater Drainage Area

    DEP is managing increased stormwater on-site due to scattered heavy rain and wind forecasted through tomorrow morning. Teams were on-site all night and continue to coordinate with state meteorologists throughout the weather event. 

    Yesterday, 217 million gallons remained in the NGS-South compartment. The site received 0.6 inches of rain, thus increasing the volume in the compartment to 221 million gallons. The steel plate repair is currently sealing the seam separation at this time and will continue to be monitored throughout the storms. 

    Key status updates and response activities:  

    • At this time, discharges to Port Manatee are still ceased.
    • Sampling efforts and monitoring are ongoing. DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impacts to Tampa Bay from the Piney Point discharges. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available. 

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate. 

  • April 10, 2021

    Piney Point Recovery EffortsThis week, DEP deployed diving companies and submersible cameras that identified a seam separation on the east wall of the NGS-South. Dive operations have strategically placed a steel plate on the seam separation to temporarily repair this identified source of concentrated seepage. At this time, the plate has been installed and we will continue to monitor the success of this repair. We continue to work to identify whether there are any additional separations of the liner.

    In anticipation of weekend weather forecasts, DEP has made preparations for managing increased stormwater on-site due to anticipated heavy rain and wind. DEP is coordinating with state meteorologists and response teams will remain on-site throughout the foreseen weather event.

    Key status updates and response activities:  

    • At this time, discharges to Port Manatee are still ceased.
    • Approximately 217 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment. To date, 215 million gallons were discharged to the port.
    • Sampling efforts and monitoring are ongoing. DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impacts to Tampa Bay from the Piney Point discharges. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available. 
    • DEP tasked two innovative technology companies to initiate nutrient reduction and removal treatments from water on-site prior to discharging to Port Manatee. These technologies are on-site preparing for operation.
  • April 9, 2021

    All discharges of untreated water to Port Manatee are currently ceased. As we deploy innovative technology on-site, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) goal is to ensure that any future required discharges to the port are treated to reduce nutrients entering surrounding waterways and minimize possible ecological impacts such as algal blooms.  

    DEP continues to monitor and sample surrounding waterways following previous discharges from the NGS-South compartment to Port Manatee. Localized impacts to water quality were observed by DEP in the immediate zone of discharge at the port, which is to be expected at this time. By ceasing untreated discharge, ecological impacts to the area will be mitigated. Sampling efforts and monitoring are ongoing. There are no reported fish kills in the area.  

    Key status updates and response activities:  

    • At this time, discharges to Port Manatee have ceased.   

    • Approximately 223 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment.  

    • To date, approximately 215 million gallons have been discharged to the port. 

    • DEP tasked two innovative technology companies to initiate nutrient reduction and removal treatments from water on-site prior to discharging to Port Manatee.  

    • DEP deployed diving companies and submersible cameras and identified a seam separation on the east wall of the compartment. Field operations teams are working around the clock to implement necessary repairs to the liner to contain the flow. The flow of the seepage has reduced and remains contained onsite in the facility’s lined stormwater management system.     

    • DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impacts to Tampa Bay from the Piney Point discharges. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available. 

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate. 

  • April 8, 2021

    Within the past 24 hours, DEP has reduced discharge flow to Port Manatee by more than 90%. Teams are now deploying nutrient reduction and removal treatments of the water on-site to address any required discharges in the future. This will significantly reduce nutrient loading to Port Manatee and help minimize water quality impacts. 

    Yesterday, DEP deployed diving companies and submersible cameras in the NGS-South compartment and identified a seam separation on the east wall of the compartment. DEP and contracted crews continue to work around the clock to implement necessary repairs to the liner to contain the flow. Field operations teams are actively assessing the remainder of the system to continue stabilization and water treatment efforts. These efforts have enabled DEP to move forward with these important steps to reduce the current discharge volume of untreated water and ensure future discharges are pre-treated. 

    DEP continues to work with its partners to implement solutions in the waterways surrounding Piney Point to combat potential harmful algal blooms and continues sampling the water quality network in this area daily.  

    Key status updates and response activities:  

    • The reduced rate of discharge to Port Manatee is now estimated to be less than 5 million gallons per day.   

    • Approximately 232 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment.  

    • To date, approximately 202 million gallons have been discharged to the port. 

    • DEP tasked two innovative technology companies to initiate nutrient reduction and removal treatments from water on-site prior to discharging to Port Manatee.  

    • DEP is working to repair the one identified area where there is concentrated seepage from the east wall of the NGS-South compartment. The flow of the seepage has reduced and remains contained onsite in the facility’s lined stormwater management system.     

    • DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impacts to Tampa Bay from the Piney Point discharges. Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available. 

    • Manatee County Emergency Management reopened U.S. Highway 41 and Buckeye Road to traffic and lifted the local evacuation order enabling local residents and businesses to return home safely.  

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate. 

  • April 7, 2021

    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) tasked two innovative technology companies to initiate nutrient reduction and removal treatments from water on-site prior to discharging to Port Manatee. DEP continues to work with its partners to implement solutions in the waterways surrounding Piney Point to combat potential harmful algal blooms. 

    Key status updates and response activities:  

    • Approximately 258 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment.  

    • More than 38 million gallons per day are being removed from the NGS-South compartment through pumps and other water management activities.  

    • Controlled discharges of mixed saltwater from NGS-South compartment to Port Manatee are ongoing to reduce the water volume and pressure, and stabilize the system. To date, approximately 173 million gallons have been discharged to the port.  

    • The department is working to repair the one identified area where there is concentrated seepage from the east wall of the NGS-South compartment. The flow of the seepage has reduced and remains contained onsite in the facility’s lined stormwater management system.     

    • DEP’s interactive water quality dashboard details sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impacts to Tampa Bay from the Piney Point discharges. The most recent results show sampling locations in Tampa Bay are attaining marine water quality standards; however, sampling from areas surrounding the active discharge point in Port Manatee shows elevated levels of phosphorus. 

    • Results will continue to be posted as soon as they are available. 

    • Yesterday, Manatee County Emergency Management reopened U.S. Highway 41 to traffic and lifted the local evacuation order enabling local residents and businesses to return home safely. 

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate. 

    For information on public safety and evacuation guidance in this area, please visit MyManatee.org. 

  • April 6, 2021

    Yesterday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) launched an interactive water quality dashboard detailing sampling locations and corresponding results to evaluate any environmental impacts to Tampa Bay from the Piney Point discharges. This enables citizens to have access to water quality data collected in response to this incident as soon as it's available. 

    DEP continues to work in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and local county governments to maximize water management options to remove water from the NGS-South compartment, relieve pressure and stabilize the system.  

    Key status updates and response activities: 

    • As of 7 a.m. this morning, approximately 303 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment. More than 35 million gallons per day are being removed from the NGS-South compartment through pumps, vacuum trucks and other water management activities.  
    • Controlled discharges from NGS-South compartment to Port Manatee are ongoing to reduce the volume in order to lessen the pressure and stabilize the system. To date, approximately 165 million gallons have been discharged to the port.     
    • There is one area of concentrated seepage from the east wall of the NGS-South compartment. DEP continues to monitor the area for any developments. The water from this seepage remains contained onsite in the facility’s lined stormwater management system.    
    • The uncontrolled discharge to Piney Point Creek ceased Saturday, April 3, 2021. It has not resumed.   
    • DOH and DEP staff visited the site yesterday to collect samples to obtain the latest water quality information on the water in the NGS-South compartment, including radiologicals. These results will be published here as soon as available. All water quality information to date concludes that this water is NOT radioactive.   
    • Last night, DEP in conjunction with the EPA, the FDEM and Manatee County brought three additional pumps online to expedite water removal efforts from the NGS-South compartment. DEP continues to maximize every opportunity available at the site to relieve pressure and stabilize the compartment. 
    • Statewide, DEP has prioritized research and supporting the use of innovative technologies for water quality protection and restoration. This week, DEP established a professional working group to collaborate with private and public partners to identify and deploy innovative technologies and solutions to aid in nutrient removal efforts for water in the containment areas at the Piney Point facility. This group will also address options for treatment technologies  for surface water discharge points in order to prevent or minimize algal blooms.  

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate.

    For information on public safety and evacuation guidance in this area, please visit MyManatee.org.

  • April 5, 2021

    There have been news reports of a second area of seepage from the east wall of the NGS-South compartment at Piney Point. These reports are unsubstantiated. A technical working group, including engineers and dam safety specialists from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM), the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Army Corps of Engineers and additional third-party engineers, was on-site today evaluating conditions and determined the site was safe to continue work. 

    Key status updates and response activities: 

    • The department continues to monitor the one identified area where there is concentrated seepage from the east wall of the NGS-South compartment. The water from this seepage remains contained onsite in the site’s lined stormwater management.  

    • The uncontrolled discharge to Piney Point Creek has ceased. 

    • Controlled discharges from NGS-South compartment to Port Manatee are ongoing to reduce the volume in order to reduce pressure and stabilize the system.   

    • In addition to the controlled discharge to Port Manatee, the DEM has also deployed at least 26 pumps for use of water removal from the NGS-South compartment and other water management activities at the site. They have also deployed 10 vacuum trucks.  

    • More than 35 million gallons per day are being removed from the NGS-South compartment through these combined water activities. 

    • DEP has collaborated with Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, to identify additional sampling locations around Port Manatee and the adjacent coastline. An additional five sampling locations have been added. Beginning today, that makes a total of 11 locations that will be monitored daily by the department. This monitoring includes sampling to determine changes in salinity, dissolved oxygen, clarity, nutrient levels, turbidity, radionuclides and other variables that will determine any changes in baseline water quality status in this area. The counties will be sampling additional separate site locations. To date results have been received for dissolved oxygen, salinity and pH, all of which meet water quality standards. Additional water quality information, including additional parameters, will be published here as it is available in the coming days. 

    • Department staff went out to the site today to collect samples to obtain the latest water quality information on the water in the NGS-South compartment, including radiologicals. All water quality information concludes that this water is NOT radioactive. These results will be published here as soon as available. 

    • The department is also working to deploy innovative technologies to remove nutrients from the water in NGS-South compartment prior to discharge and that could be implemented to prevent or minimize algal blooms in Port Manatee and surrounding areas.  

  • April 4, 2021 - Governor Ron DeSantis Provides Update on Piney Point; Meets with DEP and FDEM Leadership, Local Officials and Emergency Response Teams

    Today, Governor Ron DeSantis traveled to Manatee County to meet with state and local officials as Florida continues to mitigate the potential risk of uncontrolled discharges from Piney Point. The Governor has issued a State of Emergency in Manatee County to ensure proper resources are available for response and recovery. Governor DeSantis’ press conference from Manatee County can be viewed HERE

    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director (FDEM) Jared Moskowitz are onsite at the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center. 

    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.

    “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 Governor 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 DEP Secretary Noah 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 FDEM Director Jared 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.

    Currently, 316 residents are under an evacuation order and should heed the guidance given from Manatee County. For information on public safety and evacuation guidance in this area, please visit MyManatee.org.

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate.

  • April 3, 2021 - DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein Onsite at Manatee County Emergency Operations Center, Provides Real-Time Updates

    Today, Governor DeSantis issued a State of Emergency for Manatee County due to a possible breach of mixed saltwater from the south reservoir at the Piney Point facility. The Governor has directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Division of Emergency Management to coordinate resources both in Tallahassee and at the site to ensure proper response and mitigation of risks in Manatee County.  

    DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein was onsite today at the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center where he provided real-time updates on the state’s response efforts. The following statement is from Secretary Valenstein.

    "The department’s top priority at this time is the protection of public health and safety. As a result of the State of Emergency declared by Governor DeSantis today, this will ensure resources are available for response and recovery.

    Our first response activities are focused on ensuring releases are controlled and stopped as quickly as possible. We will then focus on our regulatory review and enforcement.

    I assure you that DEP is dedicated to full enforcement for any damages to our state’s resources and holding HRK accountable for this event. We are completing rigorous water quality sampling daily to support any future enforcement action. While this water meets most water quality standards for marine waters, there are elevated levels of nutrients and the water is acidic. However, the water is not radioactive.

    We are committed to working with Manatee County and utilizing all available resources to determine a permanent solution to this long-standing issue.” 

    Residents can find the latest information on the status of the site and response activities at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/PineyPointUpdate.

    For information on public safety and evacuation guidance in this area, please visit MyManatee.org.

  • April 3, 2021

    On April 3, officials were notified that there was a possible imminent breach of the south reservoir at the facility.  

    In response, Governor DeSantis issued a State of Emergency to ensure resources are allocated for necessary response and recovery.  

    DEP is coordinating with @FLSERT Emergency Management officials to monitor and respond to a recent shift in the south stack at the Piney Point facility. Manatee County Emergency Management has issued a mandatory evacuation for the facility. 

    DEP is relocating its onsite command to the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center to ensure safety of response staff on the ground. We are committed to working with emergency response staff in their preparations. We will provide updates as this evolves. 

  • April 2, 2021

    In an effort to prevent uncontrolled discharges that would result in environmental harm, DEP issued an Emergency Order requiring HRK to take immediate action and implement necessary steps to ensure integrity of the system. This authorization includes the release of controlled discharges.

    To be clear, the department's authorization for the controlled discharges is not a blanket authorization. The Emergency Final Order only authorizes discharges at an amount necessary to ensure stabilization.  

    The purpose of these controlled discharges is to prevent the buildup of pressure in the system. Such excess pressure could cause uncontrolled discharges of mixed seawater into freshwater, and also undermine the structural integrity of the water management system at the site. 

    On April 1, 2021, controlled discharges alleviated pressure enough to temporarily halt uncontrolled discharges into Piney Point Creek. A State Watch Office notice was distributed regarding this event, and did not include the word “creek,” when identifying Piney Point Creek - causing many to believe all discharges had ceased which is not the case. Later on, uncontrolled discharges resumed into Piney Point Creek, but at a decreased volume. This status remains the case at this time and DEP is continuing to oversee HRK’s response onsite to resolve this issue.  

    Aside from this, a separate leak in the pipe leading into Port Manatee paused controlled discharges until repairs could be made. Yesterday evening, these leaks were fixed and controlled discharges resumed this afternoon in an effort to continue alleviating pressure and maintaining structural integrity. 

    DEP is coordinating with local stakeholders and we began water quality monitoring of Port Manatee on March 30, 2021 to protect human health and safety, and to transparently communicate with the public as this situation evolves. DEP is dedicated to full enforcement for any damages to our state’s resources and holding HRK accountable for this event. 

    Around 4 p.m. on April 2, 2021, a breakout of seepage in the east wall of the NGS south containment area was observed. This water is the same mixed seawater in the reservoir. These discharges are currently contained in the onsite lined stormwater system. DEP’s Emergency Management staff are onsite and coordinating with Manatee County to provide assistance with an engineered blockade of natural landscape to halt the breakout to contain the system.  

    This situation is rapidly evolving. For more information about the emergency evacuation notice, please visit:

    Manatee County Public Safety Department   Manatee County Twitter Updates

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why was the controlled discharge to Port Manatee of water from the NGS-S compartment at the Piney Point facility necessary?

    The department’s top priority is ensuring the protection of public safety and health and minimizing any potential environmental impacts. 

    In an effort to prevent uncontrolled discharges that could result in potential risk to public health and safety as well as environmental harm to environment, including Bishop Harbor, an Outstanding Florida Water which leads to Tampa Bay, DEP issued an Emergency Order requiring HRK to take immediate action and implement necessary steps to ensure integrity of the water management system at the Piney Point site. This authorization includes the release of controlled discharges. 

    To be clear, the department's authorization for the controlled discharges is not a blanket authorization. The Emergency Final Order only authorizes discharges at an amount necessary to ensure stabilization.   

    The purpose of these controlled discharges was to prevent the buildup of pressure in the system. Such excess pressure could cause uncontrolled discharges of mixed seawater into freshwater, and also undermine the structural integrity of the water management system at the site. 

    DEP is dedicated to full enforcement for any damages to our state’s resources and holding HRK accountable for this event. 

  • How can I stay updated?

    The department is committed to providing timely, easily accessible updates to the public. Current status updates will be provided through DEP's Twitter account, posted on this site and via email. 

  • Has the water been tested prior to discharge?

    Yes. The water discharged from Piney Point is mixed sea water (primarily saltwater from the Port Manatee dredge project, mixed with legacy process water and stormwater runoff/rainfall). 

    View Water Quality Sampling Data

  • Is the water being treated in any way  before it is discharged?  

    DEP tasked two innovative technology companies to initiate nutrient reduction and removal treatments from water.

  • Is water quality monitoring being conducted in order to evaluate any potential impact from the controlled discharges to Port Manatee?

    Yes. Statewide DEP staff across divisions continue to monitor and sample water quality in this area daily. This monitoring includes sampling to determine changes in salinity, dissolved oxygen, clarity, nutrient levels, turbidity, radionuclides and other variables that will determine any changes in baseline water quality status in this area.  

    View Water Quality Sampling Data

  • How much water is in the reservoir?

    When this issue started on March 26, 2021, there was approximately 460 million gallons in the impacted NGS-S compartment. 

    As of April 11, 2021, 217 million gallons remained in the NGS-South compartment. The site received 0.6 inches of rain, thus increasing the volume in the compartment to 221 million gallons.

  • How long are the discharges expected to last and will all 460 million gallons have to be discharged? 

    All discharges of untreated water to Port Manatee are currently ceased. As we deploy innovative technology on-site, DEP's goal is to ensure that any future required discharges to the port are treated to reduce nutrients entering surrounding waterways and minimize possible ecological impacts such as algal blooms.  

  • Has the discharge to Piney Point Creek ceased at this time?

    On March 26, 2021, HRK submitted a report of process water bypassing the wastewater management system at the Piney Point facility, a former phosphate plant. The facility was releasing the mixed seawater into Piney Point Creek which leads into Tampa Bay. 

    On April 1, 2021, controlled discharges alleviated pressure enough to temporarily halt uncontrolled discharges into Piney Point Creek. 

    The uncontrolled discharge to Piney Point Creek has ceased. 

  • Are the controlled discharges still ongoing to Port Manatee?

    No, all discharges of untreated water to Port Manatee are currently ceased.

  • What is the status of the breakout of seepage from the east wall of the NGS-S containment area? 

    Around 4 p.m. on April 2, 2021, a breakout of seepage in the east wall of the NGS-S containment area was observed. This water is the same mixed seawater in the reservoir.  

    DEP deployed diving companies and submersible cameras and identified a seam separation on the east wall of the compartment. Field operations teams are working around the clock to implement necessary repairs to the liner to contain the flow. 

    The flow of the seepage has reduced and remains contained onsite in the facility’s lined stormwater management system.