TAMPA – As much as 120 million gallons of acidic wastewater is flowing into Hillsborough Bay from a breach in the retention reservoir at Cargill Fertilizer, authorities said late this afternoon.
The storm-related rupture occurred this morning as the company was trying to drain some of the reservoir, said Colleen Castille, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
She announced it at a 4 p.m. briefing in Tallahassee; Hillsborough County officials said they weren’t aware until about 4:30 p.m. There was no immediate explanation for the lack of communication, and Cargill officials could not be reached for comment.
Hillsborough Administrator Pat Bean said a county fire truck was dispatched to confirm the breach, which Castille described as a six-foot hole in the southern end of the dike. The wastewater was flowing into Archie Creek, and from there into the bay.
“Clearly we are very concerned about this,” Bean said. “It will be considered a very serious issue.”
Fish kills and other environmental damage are potential results of such spills, but there was no word on specific effects likely in this case.
Castille said the company was treating the discharge with lime to try to offset the acidity, and a trench around the reservoir was large enough to contain perhaps 20 percent of the leakage.
Bean said the Coast Guard would take the lead in cleanup, but the storm was preventing an immediate response.