What happens when 215 million gallons of phosphate-laden water spills into a warm, shallow largely enclosed bay in Florida? Algae! Thick, tangled rafts of algae which block the sun, start to rot and suck oxygen from the water, killing fish, shellfish, and other wildlife. Animals which depend on the fish also starve or must move on, if they can move at all and are lucky enough not to have been poisoned by the toxins released by the red tide. 

Such an event took place at Piney Point next to Tampa Bay in April 2021, when a huge retention pond full of toxic waste from phosphate mining breached and caused the massive spill. The chemical soup contained not only phosphate but heavy metals, radioactive materials and other byproducts of phosphate mining.

Here is one more example of the results of irresponsible management, which unscores a serious need for innovative soltions to actually clean up rather than simply store industrial waste.


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