Tampa Bay and its connected other two bays, Old Tampa Bay & Hillsborough Bay, make up one of the most diverse and beautiful bodies of water on the planet — and it’s in trouble! Our economy-supporting, tourist-attracting, blue paradise we call home is on the brink of disaster. The bay’s water quality and wildlife-supporting seagrasses are all under threat. The next big spill is coming! Our property values, our tourism, our wildlife, our fishing industry, our kids’ future, our recreation, our quality of life will be impacted for decades to come.
What is the phosphate industry’s plan to prevent another big spill into our vibrant bay? History proves the only plan is to fail.
Remember that time in the late 90’s when 56 million gallons of toxic phosphate wastewater were dumped into the Alafia River, killing nearly every living creature and ultimately flowing into the bay to wreak havoc for decades? (Wikipedia will refresh your memory) Oh, but what about that time in 2004 when some tropical rains caused 65 million gallons of toxic phosphate sludge to spill into the bay and to kill even more wildlife? And who can forget that time in 2011 when the Piney Point storage pond dumped 170 millions gallons into the bay. Wait a minute – but what about that time in 2016 when 215 million gallons of Mosaic radioactive soup disappeared underground into our drinking water – the Floridan aquifer! (just google “phosphate Florida”)
But what’s really fresh on our Tampa minds is the most recent 2021 Piney Point (government approved) release of more than 200,000 gallons of nutrient-rich phosphate wastewater into our bay. Once again, we’re witnessing (and smelling) the effects of the repeated spills. The current red tide is forcing waterfront homeowners to clean up their shorelines, businesses to shut down, and anglers and tour operators to get off the water.
See a pattern here? Surrounding communities and organizations have been working for decades to protect our bay and clean it up. But what is the phosphate industry’s plan?
The routine spills prove the waiting game is the industry’s only plan: store dangerous waste long enough — until a weather event or holding pond failure disposes of it into our bay. Our communities and wildlife have paid for that plan in the past, and we will pay for it in the future. The phosphate industry acts as if THEY own the 400 square miles of aqua blue waters. However, we are three million strong, we are 3,142,663 locals calling the bay area home – and that body of water is ours!
Here’s how WE will save Tampa Bay:
1) Demand answers!
Ask the phosphate industry how their current plan to store and dispose of THEIR waste is any different from the previous failures. Ask them how they plan to properly dispose of more than ONE BILLION gallons stored in those decades-old ponds! Ask how the storage ponds that are routinely inspected and reported to be safe end up failing. Ask what their plan is to change the way wastewater ponds are maintained and inspected. Ask for their new plan to effectively protect our waters and communities.
Ask YOUR local, state, and federal government agencies what their plan is to prevent more spills. Ask the agencies to show you the plan and the timeline to properly dispose of ONE BILLION gallons of toxic wastewater. Ask why local, state, and federal environmental regulations are not effective in preventing more industry spills. Ask why regulations aren’t changed to require smaller gypsum stacks/holding ponds to ensure that a single failure does not impact entire communities. Ask how a single industry can get away with holding the entire bay region hostage and to feel threatened every time a storm passes through. We’ve made it easy to demand answers with all the emails and phone numbers listed below.
2) Support organizations that make your voice even louder!
Yes, we must further empower and support local environmental nonprofits. Why? Because they are out there pounding the pavement, knocking on politicians’ doors, attending meetings, doing science, monitoring spill effects, and rescuing wildlife. They are creating a unified & collective voice for residents and our waters! But as you’ve seen our communities must take action to make our voice louder than the industry’s.
Immediately make your voice louder by volunteering and donating to one of many local organizations protecting our waters. For decades environmental nonprofits have been organizing volunteers and using tax deductible donations for: replanting aquatic vegetation, building living shorelines, conducting bay cleanups, and for educating locals, tourists, & government agencies about the bay’s amazing wildlife.
So round up your family members or gather up your office staff and find a local organization that you can help with your voices, hands, and wallets. The return on the investment is paid in being able to put your toes and your kid’s fishing line in the water. We made it easy to find a bay area organization – we’ve mapped & listed them all here.
3) Stop fertilizing your lawn!
“What – my little lawn?” Yes – purchasing fertilizer impacts the bay in three ways: First, it provides larger profit margins to the very industry dumping toxic waste into it. Secondly, to make that little bag of lawn fertilizer adds thousands more gallons of toxic radioactive wastewater stored in the dangerous ponds. Lastly, when you spread the fertilizer on your lawn, thunderstorms and tropical rains create nutrient-rich stormwater runoff that ends up in the bay. Those nutrients, in addition to the industry spills, fuel the seagrass and wildlife-killing algae blooms and red tides.
Tampa Bay is in trouble. Our aqua blue waters are one thunderstorm, one hurricane, or just one more Gasparilla Pirate Festival from the next big one. So before you load up the family for a picnic on the water, before you grab the kayak, before you invite your family to visit, before you grab your fishing gear, before you hit the beach, send out a few emails. Make a phone call or two. Join an organization. WE must protect our paradise. WE will force the phosphate industry and the government to come up with a better plan! These folks are waiting to hear from you:
Community Relations Hillsborough County
(813) 775-2977 email@example.com
Piney Point HRK Holdings, LLC
Webpage for submitting comments
(941) 729-7300 -or- (813) 368-3180
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Region 4 Chief, Enforcement & Compliance Branch
(404) 562-8590 Lamberth.Larry@epa.gov
Enforcement & Compliance FL State Coordinator
(404) 562-8594 Mallick.Parvez@epa.gov
(404) 562-9749 Hesterlee.Craig@epa.gov
(202) 564-4700 Regan.Michael@epa.gov
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
(813) 470-5700 Kelley.M.Boatwright@FloridaDEP.gov
(850) 245-2118 Shawn.Hamilton@FloridaDEP.gov
Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs
(850) 245-2036 John.Truitt@FloridaDEP.gov
Elected Politicians Serving Bay Area Residents
Marco Rubio, U.S. Republican Senator: (866) 630-7106 Contact Form
Rick Scott, U.S. Republican Senator: (813) 225-7040 Contact Form
The views expressed on this page do not represent the views of the advertisers on this website.