NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Piney Point latest: Evacuation orders lifted, US 41 reopens

Piney Point Leak Blue FS.png
Posted at 12:25 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 17:34:34-04

PALMETTO, Fla. — ABC Action News is tracking the latest on the gypsum stack at an old phosphate mine at Piney Point.

Wednesday, April 7

  • 4:20 p.m.
    • Approximately 258 million gallons remain in the NGS-South compartment.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 7 a.m.
    • The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) launched a research vessel with a team of eight scientists from the University of South Florida College of Marine Science to study the environmental impacts of the breach.
    • The scientists include chemical oceanographers and biological oceanographers.
    • College of Marine Science Dean Tom Frazer says the sampling will provide the information necessary should scientists need to respond or mitigate the impacts from the contaminated water.

Tuesday, April 6

  • 6:02 p.m.
    • Reporter Wendi Lane explains that with more pumps coming in from the state, more wastewater is draining out
More pumps brought in to remove wastewater

  • 6 p.m.
    • Reporter Ryan Smith goes in-depth on the evacuation orders being lifted in Manatee County
Evacuation orders have been lifted in Manatee County

  • 5:02 p.m.
    • Reporter Wendi Lane explains that more and more water is being drained from Piney Point
More water is being drained from Piney Point

  • 4:15 p.m.
    • Officials release the following situation overview:
      • The leak in the containment wall continues at the Piney Point facility, but seepage rates have decreased
      • A technical working group, including engineers and subject matter experts from FDEP, FDEM, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Army Corps of Engineers and additional third-party engineers are on site
      • Members of this work group have stationed pumps and pipes to increase output from the reservoir
      • As of the latest report, the levels in the lake decreased to 59.2 feet, which is down significantly from the onset of the incident

  • 4:10 p.m.
    • Evacuation orders lifted

  • 1 p.m.
    • Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Senator Janet Cruz visit Piney Point.
    • Fried said officials have done a great job of working together to tackle the problem and said the emergency has de-escalated in the last 24 hours.
    • Cruz called for all gypsum stacks in the state to be inspected. Click here for a map of the other stacks in the state.

  • 11 a.m.
    • Officials are "confident" in the latest Piney Point outflow models.

  • 10:30 a.m.
    • U.S. 41 reopens after it was closed last week as part of a broad evacuation zone.
    • Manatee County officials say the zone is still under mandatory evacuation and all other surrounding roads will remain closed.
    • Residents with questions about the evacuation zone can call Manatee County’s call center at 311.


Monday, April 5

  • Engineers inspect site and find no second breach.
  • Rep. Vern Buchanan visits Piney Point.

  • Thermal drones find second possible breach around 2:30 a.m.

Sunday, April 4

  • DeSantis visited Manatee County and expanded the state of emergency to include Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
  • Over 300 Manatee County inmates moved to a secure location.
  • Manatee County launches tool for residents to see if they're in the evacuation zone. Click here.

Saturday, April 3

  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a State of Emergency for Manatee County.

  • As of 6 p.m., the evacuation zone included 316 households.
  • U.S. 41 closed at 113th St E.

Friday, April 2

  • Manatee County issued an evacuation notice which was later expanded.

Thursday, April 1

  • Manatee County Commissioners declared a local state of emergency when HRK notified them of a breach at the Piney Point phosphogypsum stack.