Dolphin advocates seek moratorium on waste releases
By Bruce Ritchie
17th April 2004
Some environmental groups are asking federal agencies to curb nutrient-waste releases by Florida in the Gulf of Mexico to try to prevent dolphin deaths along the Panhandle.
More than 100 dead dolphins have washed up along beaches west of Indian Pass in Gulf County since mid-March. Scientists who examined the dolphins have found high levels of a neurotoxin associated with a red-tide alga.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Florida Clean Water Network, the Sierra Club and the Florida Public Interest Research groups are concerned that nutrient pollution is feeding red tides.
The groups sent a letter Friday to federal officials asking that they place a moratorium on releases of treated wastewater from the abandoned Piney Point phosphate plant in Manatee County.
The groups, which also want stricter enforcement of environmental laws in Florida, have no evidence of specific pollution discharges causing the dolphin deaths, said Linda Young of the Clean Water Network.
"We are not claiming we have answers to this problem," she said. "But we are calling attention to it because we are alarmed and heartsick about what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico."
A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which took over the abandoned phosphate plant, said the offshore wastewater discharges ended last November. She said the wastewater flowed south in the Gulf, away from the Panhandle, and did not cause environmental harm.