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Submersible working to locate underwater leak at Piney Point site

Crews working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are attempting to find and repair a tear in the south pond liner system.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection continues its around-the-clock work alongside the Army Corps of Engineers to find and repair a leak in the liner system at the bottom of the Piney Point south pond holding pool.

Since last week, the company which owns Piney Point, HRK, has been desperately attempting to pump out as much water as possible after it was discovered the berm walls, originally holding back more than 480-million gallons of wastewater, were in danger of collapse.

As of Thursday, the water, which is high in ammonia, phosphate and nitrogen, is still being pumped into a ditch on the south side of Port Manatee which flows into Tampa Bay and a deep water shipping channel.

According to a press release, FDEP says it has reduced the discharge flow by more than 90 percent and teams are deploying nutrient reduction and removal treatments of the water on-site "to address any required discharges in the future."

The state agency says the estimated discharge to Port Manatee is currently at 5 million gallons per day with 232 million gallons remaining in the retention pond.

The underwater work to locate the leak was unsuccessful Wednesday. As of Thursday evening, FDEP says crews are continuing to work on liner repairs necessary to contain the flow.

"These efforts have enabled DEP to move forward with these important steps to reduce the current discharge volume of untreated water and ensure future discharges are pre-treated," it wrote.

To date, approximately 202 million gallons have been discharged into Tampa Bay waters. 

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