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Phosphate processing plants in the greater Tampa Bay region have caused some of Florida's worst environmental disasters. Accidents like the spill at the former Piney Point plant fill the history books in Florida.

Nikki Fried: Problems At Piney Point Were 20 Years In The Making

Nikki Fried in airplane, overlooking the Piney Point plant
Nikki Fried / Facebook
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried looks over the Piney Point processing plant on April 6, 2021.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried toured the processing plant and said the massive spill could have far-reaching implications.

Saying the issues at the Piney Point processing plant have been a brewing problem for 20 years, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried suggested more oversight and accountability could have prevented the release of millions of gallons of water containing nutrients such as phosphorous into Tampa Bay.

Fried weighed in on the massive spill from the Piney Point retention pond Tuesday. She spoke in Manatee County after getting an aerial tour of the leaking pond at the former phosphate plant.

“Florida is one of the most amazing states in the nation with some of the best natural resources in the world,” Fried said. “And if we are destroying our environment and not doing anything to protect it, we are destroying the future of our state.”

ALSO READ: Piney Point Wastewater Dump Could Be Largest In Tampa Bay History

She said it's critical that Florida avoids another man-made disaster in other parts of the state.

While Fried said the phosphate industry is not under her department's purview, the commissioner expressed concern for people, waterways, farming and aquaculture that is near to the Piney Point site and in Tampa Bay.

She said the spill is not the only area of concern.

“There are other ponds across the state that have similar leaks that we really need to get ahead of, because this is disastrous,” Fried said.

State leaders and emergency officials have descended on Manatee County since a leak was located about a week ago. Millions of gallons of polluted water are being pumped out of the pond into Tampa Bay.

I love telling stories about my home state. And I hope they will help you in some way and maybe even lift your spirits.