Manatee County lifts local evacuation order related to Piney Point water breach
MANATEE COUNTY – Hours after local and state officials reopened U.S. 41 to traffic, a local evacuation order was lifted this afternoon giving local residents and businesses permission to return home safely tonight. The news comes as new data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows a diminished risk for an uncontrolled breach of water from the Piney Point gyp stacks located at 13300 U.S. Highway 41 in north Manatee County.
Buckeye Road will remain closed to traffic for the immediate future. FedEx vehicles will be able to access the FedEx distribution center off U.S. 41 via Buckeye Road.. The County's Emergency Operations Center will transition to a Level 2 activation with only essential personnel at the EOC.
"We’re now ending our fifth day since learning of a breach at the site, and I am in awe over the state, federal and local cooperation to ensure the safety of our residents," said Commission Chairman Vanessa Baugh. "I am so pleased that the interruption to life as usual in North Manatee is minimal and that our residents and business owners can return safely to the area tonight."
"This is a response that spans across all levels of government. We are committed to ensuring this is the last chapter of the Piney Point story and holding HRK accountable," said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. "Thanks to the dedicated work of statewide responders, today's announcement to lift evacuation orders in the surrounding area is a benchmark of the progress being made around the clock."
Added County Administrator Scott Hopes, "I know I’m going to sleep better. Those residents that were displaced, we're glad it was short lived. We’ve dramatically reduced the risk in a significant way."
Earlier today, County Commissioners unanimously authorized the use of a deep injection well on County-owned property directly south of the Piney Point site across Buckeye Road. That action gives the Commission total control over the well and allows the County to dictate the quality of the water before it goes into the well.
"The residents and business owners of North Manatee can rest assured that the water atop the stacks will be treated before it is transferred to the deep injection well and then capped to ensure no other water enters the well," Baugh said.
DEP also launched an interactive water quality dashboard at
Piney Point Environmental Monitoring Dashboard from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.