Students tackle the Piney Point crisis

Hurricane+Hot+Takes%E2%80%93Environmental+Club+members+attend+a+bi-weekly+about+local+issues+about+our+beaches+and+our+land.+Junior+Lilly+Richards+hosted+a+conversation+with+club+members+about+the+implications+of+the+Piney+Point.+%E2%80%9CWe+need+to+hold+these+meetings+so+students+can+have+a+voice+on+these+environmental+issues.%E2%80%9D+Richards+said.

Hurricane Hot Takes–Environmental Club members attend a bi-weekly about local issues about our beaches and our land. Junior Lilly Richards hosted a conversation with club members about the implications of the Piney Point. “We need to hold these meetings so students can have a voice on these environmental issues.” Richards said.

Denny Lu, Editor

 On April 1, 2021, the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners declared a local state of emergency which became a precursor to an environmental crisis. Piney Point is one of many retention ponds for toxic wastewater, a byproduct of the phosphate mining in our county. North Manatee residents were forced to evacuate the area because of the possibility that floods can breach the retention pond full of toxic wastewater created after phosphate mining in the area. With hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater that could flood the area, state, local and federal resources were brought to the area in order to purge the water out of the pond and into Tampa Bay. However, this solution has caused a lot of controversy for fishermen, local businesses, environmentalists and residents.

One of these groups include our school’s Environmental Club. During the meeting on April 8, 2021, President Lilly Richards and Vice-President Olivia Johnson began a conversation about the potential consequences of the Piney Point catastrophe.

“As a club, we wanted to discuss this pressing issue because of the attention that it’s getting nationally,” said Richards. “We need to voice our concerns because we are the future generation dealing with these outcomes.”

Many of the members agreed with this sentiment. As the discussion concluded, Olivia Johnson provided her own perspective on the issue.

“We need corporate responsibility,” said Johnson. “These phosphate miners that take our natural resources, but leave the waste for us to deal with is simply wrong. We must do more to hold this industry accountable.”

With the debate about the best solution to this preventable tragedy ongoing, the Environmental Club is taking this opportunity to educate the school about the importance of taking preventive action today as the best measure in preventing major environmental issues in the future.