DEP lawyers already searching for ways to hold Piney Point owners accountable

A Manatee County evacuation order was lifted and the Department of Environmental Protection started stepping down water drainage efforts. But government officials at a Tallahassee hearing say a collapse of a reservoir at an abandoned mine nearly knocked out half Florida’s power supply.

“The Gulfstream pipeline runs right beside Piney Point,” said Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes. “That supplies gas to produce power to 50% of the state of Florida. All estimates are that if we had to shut the off, it would have taken two weeks at a minimum to bring back power.”

DEP officials working with the Army Corps of Engineers have, since Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency, pumped roughly 173 million gallons of water from a breached pond on site. But more than 150 million of gallons remain, and two other water stacks on the property remain with greater levels of pollution than the one that broke.

The House Pandemics and Public Emergencies Committee held an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss state response to the problems at Piney Point, where owners promised years ago to remove the environmental threats from the site but largely walked away because of financial challenges.

DEP Secretary Noah

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