An estimated 90,000 gallons of industrial wastewater spilled onto Port of Tampa Bay’s Redwing location near Gibsonton on Tuesday, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the company involved in the spill.
The DEP’s pollution notice website reported that, “Abundant rainfall caused a discharge of sulfur prill contact industrial wastewater through a stormwater emergency outfall into an adjacent ditch.”
For context, 100,000 gallons is about 20, 5,000-gallon semi tanks that carry things like milk, septic waste and water.
The wastewater made contact with sulfur prill, a pellet shaped elemental sulfur product used in rubber vulcanization, the production of asphalt, detergents, dyes, explosives, fertilizers, insecticides, and other products. The prill is considered a “combustible dust” and can have dangerous, toxic effects on the body. When water contacts sulfur, it can become acidic, making the water harmful to ingest or interact with.
The report didn’t include the amount of wastewater discharged, but Creative Loafing Tampa Bay reached out to the DEP and Logistec Gulf Coast, the company involved in the spill.
Brian Moore, Principal Engineer at the Logistec site said they estimate 90,000 gallons had overflowed into a spillover ditch, but that there was “no way to tell exactly” how much overflowed. He said that a test of the water remaining in the ditch on Thursday showed that the pH balance had returned to normal.
In an email, Logistec representatives said that as of Thursday, the wastewater ended up in a ditch that was designed to hold overflow, and 84,000 was recovered by frac trucks and pumps. Port Redwing is in between Gibsonton and Apollo Beach right on the Big Bend Channel.
DEP told CL that on July 6 its Office of Emergency Response was notified of the sulfur prill contact water by the Florida State Watch Office and DEP’s Pollution Notification portal.
Shannon Herbon, Public Information Officer for DEP, said her department’s responders performed a pH test on the water discharged and determined it was not hazardous, adding that “the case has since been referred to the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission as this facility is within their jurisdiction.”
Richard Tager, President of Logistec—which handles products such as sulphur, aggregates, bottom ash, sugar, salt and other bulk cargoes—says that the company is working diligently with the Port of Tampa Bay and the DEP to control the incident, and that Logistec is committed to the safety, health and wellness of people in the surrounding area.
“This release, related to the recent frequent storms and heavy rains, including Hurricane Elsa, is being actively contained and stored,” Tager wrote in an email statement to CL. “While impacts to the immediate area are predicted to be minimal, we continue to monitor the situation closely and are deploying all available efforts to contain and store spilled residual water.”
This spill comes in the same month that 60,000 gallons of residential wastewater spilled into Hillsborough Bay and just three months after the Piney Point toxic wastewater accident that spilled more than 800 million gallons. Port Redwing last made news in a major way five years ago when a man was killed when a sulfur pile collapsed on his front-end loader.
To report a known or suspected environmental concern, citizens are encouraged to submit a tip to the department’s Citizen Concern Portal.
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