Piney Point & Red Tide Crisis

Tampa Bay Waterkeeper has been working closely with Suncoast Waterkeeper in bringing attention to the Piney Point and the Red Tide crisis.

For news articles please visit our Piney Point news section.

  • July 23, 2021 we co-hosted a Forum on Red Tide and Harmful Algae Blooms. Executive Directors of both the Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay Estuary Programs provided updates and answered questions regarding the cause, effect and solution of the region’s recent red tide bloom.

  • July 19, 2021 requested State of Emergency on Red Tide for Tampa Bay. More than two dozen local businesses and conservation groups asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency due to the ongoing red tide and fish kills in and around Tampa Bay.

  • June 24, 2021 a lawsuit was filed by The Center For Biological Diversity, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, Suncoast Waterkeeper, Manasota-88, and Our Children’s Earth Foundation. Please see our current legal cases page for more information.

  • April 5th, 2021 at 8PM an emergency meeting of the Suncoast Waterkeeper and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper boards was held to discuss the Piney Point/HRK emergency discharge into the waters of the Tampa Bay Estuary.

  • April 7th, 2021 we released a joint press release with Suncoast Waterkeeper on the call for action on phosphogypsum stacks endangering the coastal habitats in Florida. Included were 9 points that we are demanding from the Governor and Legislature.

Forum on Red Tide and Harmful Algae Blooms (July 23rd, 2021)

Piney Point and Red Tide Resources

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is maintaining an informational site specifically for this crisis. This site will contain up-to-date information as the situation unfolds. You can find information about what they are analyzing on their Response and Results page and the survey data presented on their ArcGIS server.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission conducts red tide (K.brevis) sampling. For the current status of Red Tide, please visit their Arc GIS map or call (866) 300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida toll-free to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial (727) 502-4952. Standard calling charges apply.

Additionally, Tampa Bay Estuary Program is leading a coordinated monitoring effort, aggregating data, and producing monthly monitoring updates. Visit their Piney Point Monitoring Dashboard for current and baseline data.

Suncoast Waterkeeper has a site dedicated to this issue with some background as well as actions being taken.

At the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science, the Center for Prediction of Red Tides uses forecast models to track and predict harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the southeastern United States and reports current conditions. The center is a cooperative venture with the FWC.

The Tampa Bay Times has a nice FAQ write-up as well.

Also keep an eye on our Facebook page!

Infographic from Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

Reporting Hotlines

We encourage you to use FWC's Fish Kill Hotline 800-636-0511 (toll-free) to report fish kills, diseased fish, or fish with other abnormalities. Leave a detailed report and contact information on the recorded message or submit a report online.

We encourage you to use FWC's 24-hour Wildlife Alert Hotline 888-404-3922 (toll-free). If you find a dead, sick, or injured manatee or sea turtle, or you would like to report a wildlife law violation, please call.

What is Phosphogypsum?

Phosphogypsum is the radioactive waste from processing phosphate ore into phosphoric acid which is predominantly used in fertilizer. In addition to radioactive materials, phosphogypsum and process wastewater can also contain carcinogens and toxic heavy metals like antimony, ar senic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, fluoride, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, sulfur, thal lium, and zinc.

Phosphogypsum is stored in piles stacked hundreds of acres wide and hundreds of feet tall. More than 1 billion tons are already stored in 25 stacks in Florida. Phosphogypsum also threat ens low-wealth communities in Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Mis souri, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Is Phosphogypsum Safe?

The EPA has determined that phosphogypsum poses a cancer risk from its radon emissions. Major sinkholes in phosphogypsum stacks have released millions of gallons of process wastewater and an undetermined amount of phosphogypsum into the Floridan aquifer. EPA has declared a Mississippi fertilizer plant and phosphogypsum stack system a Superfund site, and a phos phogypsum stack in Louisiana has been moving laterally since January 2019, putting surround ing communities and farms at risk.

What can I do?

Sign the petition urging the EPA to step up and protect public health and the environment from phosphogypsum. Contact your elected officials to ask them to ensure that the EPA takes action on the petition to protect human health and the environment.

What does the petition ask the EPA to do?

1. Reverse an earlier determination to exclude phosphogypsum from regulation; 2. Regulate the safe treatment, storage and disposal of phosphogypsum as hazardous waste; 3. Designate phosphogypsum a high-priority substance for risk evaluation;

4. Require manufacturers to conduct testing on phosphogypsum and process wastewater; and 5. Determine that the use of phosphogypsum in road construction is a significant new use that requires a determination on whether it is safe.