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Piney Point dumping 4 million gallons of rainwater into Tampa Bay

It was one of the areas biggest environmental disasters. Now the Piney Point facility is one step closer to being closed for good.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — On Saturday, Piney Point began dumping 4 million gallons of rainwater into Tampa Bay.

Officials say this is nothing like the dump in April of last year, when hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water were dumped into the bay to avoid a potential collapse.

"It's rainwater, it's not processed water. It's not coming into contact with anything that involves nutrients or any other toxic materials," Herb Donica, the court-ordered receiver for Piney Point, said.  "That's been kept separate. It's important for us to get it out right away so that nothing happens."

Officials say they test the rainwater regularly to make sure there aren’t any environmental problems that arise.

“It is inherently important because until the Piney Point facility is closed it will continue to present a potential to the environment and community.” Piney Point Site Manager Jeffrey Barath said.

RELATED: Phase one of Piney Point closure begins

RELATED: A look at Florida's plan to close Piney Point facility for good

They say the results show it is safe to dump into the bay, but environmental groups remain skeptical.

"They do not have a permit, so we're concerned about any type of discharge coming out of that facility," Justin Tramble, the executive director of Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, said. "With that being said, this is not what we saw last year." 

The process is expected to take 10 days to complete.

“It's not an emergency situation, so we're not pumping large volumes," Donica said. We're testing it on both sides as we go."

After the water is gone, crews will work to fill in the old gypsum stack.

"There will be a liner put on a new liner and then 2 feet of dirt with grass on top," Donica explained.

Tampa Bay Waterkeeper says they want more accountability for the damage that’s already been done. 

"We are currently in active litigation. We do believe that this facility has been mismanaged for years." Said Tramble.

RELATED: Neighbors concerned about contaminated drinking water as Piney Point deep-injection well project pushes forward

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