Read the full story from CBS News.
All it took was 10 days to devastate the waters of Tampa Bay for months. The nearly “catastrophic failure” of Piney Point, a former phosphate mining facility, unleashed millions of gallons of untreated wastewater into local waterways, and new research, published on the anniversary the leak at the facility began, reveals just how devastating it was.
The incident began last year when the company in charge of Piney Point, HRK Holdings, found a tear in the liner of a gypsum stack. That liner is what essentially prevents millions of gallons of mining wastewater and dredged materials from seeping through a phosphogypsum stack – a massive mound made up of phosphorus mining byproduct. That leak started to impact the structural integrity of the entire stack, prompting officials to evacuate residents over concern that the stack would totally collapse and unleash a massive wave of water.
To prevent that from happening, officials had to pump that wastewater into local waterways. Over the course of 10 days, more than 215 million gallons of wastewater filled with environmentally toxic levels of nutrients were unleashed into Tampa Bay.