MANATEE -- HRK Holdings, LLC, owner of the facility at Piney Point that leaked for weeks, is making arrangements to clean the neighborhood affected by millions of gallons per day of emergency discharges.
Jordan Levy, HRK’s chief executive officer, said the company has contracted with a certified material handling company to begin cleaning the ditches that flow downhill toward Bishop Harbor from its facility at 13300 U.S. 41 N.
Discharges from the HRK facility ceased again Thursday morning, according to Dee Ann Miller, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Levy said his company wants to remove any sediment that was deposited during the discharges, which state regulators allowed in a May 29 order to ensure the structural integrity of the huge former phosphate plant gypsum stacks.
The company had cleaned the stacks and converted them to a different use: To dispose of dredge material from a Port Manatee construction project.
But officials discovered ruptures in a plastic liner covering the floor of one section, which they pinpointed as the source of the leaks. Port Manatee halted dredging June 3 to provide HRK officials time to locate and repair the damage.
The company is applying for permits to clean the ditches, Levy said, adding, “We anticipate receiving the permits shortly, with the cleanup to commence in the next few days.”
As of Thursday, six people had contacted county staff members about well water quality testing, said Thomas Larkin, environmental manager for the Manatee County Department of Health. He wasn’t sure whether they comprised the same or different people from those who asked the state for water well testing.
Neighbors of the Piney Point facility Wednesday told the Bradenton Herald they were scared to drink their well water, since state water quality tests showed the discharge carried excessive amounts of contaminants like cadmium, a toxic heavy metal; and the nutrients phosphorus and nitrogen.
Sampling was conducted Thursday, and the state will be expediting lab results, “as we have for all of our monitoring,” said Miller. Results are expected in about one week, she added.
A Chapman Road resident had reported dead fish near her home, but a DEP investigation exonerated the company.
“Staff were able to locate a shallow, stagnant pooled water area off of Chapman Road with dead fish; water samples were collected; these samples indicated that the color and turbidity of the water in this shallow, stagnant pooled area did not match that of the discharge,” Miller said.
“Due to these factors, it is not believed that the discharge is connected to the fish kill,” she said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.