PALMETTO, Fla. — As crews work around the clock to prevent a catastrophic breach at Piney Point, some of Tampa Bay’s leading environmental advocates are demanding better oversight of phosphate mining in Florida.
“We’re not out of the woods here yet,” said Glenn Compton, with ManaSota—88. “The worst case scenario can still play out.”
ManaSota—88 was formed in the 1960s to oppose phosphate mining at Piney Point.
Compton says watchdogs have called the controversial Manatee County site an “environmental time bomb” for more than five decades.
“We’re looking at the federal government for protection because we’re not getting it from our local governments and our state representatives. So we have to look to the EPA," Compton said.
ABC Action News confirmed on Monday representatives with the United States Environmental Protection Agency are on site, but state officials remain in charge.
ABC Action News obtained a legal petition sent to the EPA in February, warning federal officials of some of the same environmental threats Manatee County is now dealing with.
People for Protecting Peace River, based in DeSoto County, filed the petition with the support of 17 grassroots environmental organizations and public health groups.
The petition urges the EPA to take over regulatory control of the country’s gypsum stacks.
According to People for Protecting Peace River, there are more than 70 gypsum stacks in the United States, and nearly half are located in Florida.
“For some reason, the mining industry has been deemed free and clear of their waste being regulated as hazardous waste or as toxic waste,” said president Brooks Armstrong.
The EPA has 90 days from Feb. 8 to respond to the legal petition. ABC Action News has confirmed they are reviewing the petition.