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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.

Hillsborough County Could Pursue Legal Action Over Piney Point Leak

Aerial view of Piney Point
Sarah Gledhill

"Someone should be held responsible," Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White said.

There’s no price tag yet for damage caused by the Piney Point retention pond leak. But Hillsborough County commissioners are getting ready for a legal fight.

The former phosphate plant and its contaminated retention ponds are about two miles from the Hillsborough County line.

Commissioner Stacy White says millions of gallons of wastewater pouring into Tampa Bay could be devastating for the county's commercial and recreational fishers, and ecotourism.

“Someone should be held responsible for that up to and including financial compensation for those that have been adversely impacted," White said at a county commission meeting on Wednesday. He told county attorneys to "stand ready and stand by" for possible lawsuits.

State officials have said HRK Holdings, which owns Piney Point, will be held responsible.

The company was unable to pay for cleanup of a similar leak at Piney Point in 2011, and it filed for bankruptcy.

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.