MANATEE -- Repairs continued Tuesday atop a Piney Point facility, where officials are hoping to determine what caused weeks of massive discharges that contaminated the area.
Officials were slated to remove a section of damaged plastic liner from one cell where dredge material is processed at the former phosphate plant, according to Jordan Levy, chief executive officer of HRK Holdings LLC, owner of the property.
The company suspects ruptures in the liner caused millions of gallons a day of seawater to leak from its site. The facility uses a series of “settling ponds” to separate seawater from dredge debris.
HRK also was slated to continue the mechanical cleaning of ditches along its perimeter, located along Buckeye Road where it meets U.S. 41 N., according to a status report Levy submitted to state officials.
Ditches there lead to Bishop Harbor, part of the Terra Ceia Aquatic Buffer Preserve.
The company had cleaned an area from an outfall on the south side of its property to approximately Armstrong Road, Levy said.
In 2006, the company bought the property after Mulberry Corp., a fertilizer producer, declared bankruptcy. After the phosphogypsum stacks were closed, the company converted the site to dispose of dredge material from a Port Manatee construction project.
Last month it began to experience difficulties, however, and on May 29, the state granted permission for emergency discharges that continued through last week. The discharges contained contaminants, like the toxic heavy metal cadmium, and higher-than-average levels of phosphorus and nitrogen, according to state water quality tests.
Removal of the affected portion of liner was to be accomplished carefully in order to preserve its integrity, and to more accurately determine the cause of its failure, said the report, dated early Tuesday.
Once the liner was removed, it was slated to be sent to an Orlando lab operated by Ardaman & Associates Inc. for expert analysis, according to Levy. The firm is a professional geotechnical, environmental, water resources, facilities, and construction materials engineering consulting company, according to its website.
While the analysis takes place, a temporary patch was to be placed over the exposed area, Levy said. A video of the operation was also being made for review by officials of the state Department of Environmental Protection, which is overseeing repairs, he said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.