Jeff Brandes and Ben Diamond introduce bipartisan bills to prevent another disaster at Piney Point

As finger and blame continue to cloud Manatee County time bomb cleanup and accountability efforts Piney Point Phosphogypsum Plant, two Florida lawmakers introduced bills to prevent another similar tragedy.

Republican Senator Jeff brandes be p. Ben Diamond, both from St. Petersburg, on Monday announced legislation aimed at increasing public transparency and agency accountability over the state’s many gypsum stacks, filled with radioactive byproducts of phosphate mining .

“To avoid environmental disasters like what happened at Piney Point and the ensuing red tide in Tampa Bay, we need to be honest with Floridians and the local governments that serve them about the looming dangers posed by batteries. of phosphogypsum, ”said Diamond. “It is vital that our constituents have as much time as possible to prepare for the potential consequences of these environmental and health risks. Our legislation will ensure that local governments and citizens of our state can easily access information about these hazards before they wash up on our shores. “

The House bill (HB 1339) and his Senate companion (SB 1744) would require the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to notify the state’s emergency management division as well as local entities within 24 hours of discovering possible hazards in gyp chimneys.

Last year, more than 200 gallons of contaminated water spilled into Port Manatee and spilled into Tampa Bay following a failed Piney Point gyp stack. The failure came after HRK, the company overseeing the site, spent months advocating with county and state officials to help avert an inevitable disaster.

Despite documented calls for help, state officials were quick to blame HRK and sought to hold the company accountable.

The ecologists bound the spill to the intense and persistent red tide of last year, one of the worst in the history of the state.

“The public and our elected officials at all levels of government have a right to know when their community is in imminent danger,” said Aliki moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters. “Thank you to Representative Ben Diamond for putting the safety of families and neighborhoods in Florida first. Transparency, accountability and communication are necessary to properly protect human health, especially in the face of ongoing large-scale environmental disasters like Piney Point. “

The bills also seek to increase transparency by asking the DEP to create a public database listing all of the state’s gyp piles by county and featuring summaries of inspections, impending dangers, reduction actions and material violations.

“The sun is the best disinfectant,” Brandes said. “Florida has always valued transparency in government. It is a problem best solved with transparency and public accountability. “

Since the Piney Point disaster, county commissioners and state agencies have approved controversial plans pump the remaining water from the site into an injection well 3,500 feet deep.

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