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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Tampa Bay Braces for Red Tide Outbreak After Toxic Wastewater Leak

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Friday, April 9, 2021   

TAMPA, Fla. - The uncontrolled release of millions of gallons of polluted wastewater at Piney Point into Tampa Bay is raising concerns about a massive wave of harmful algal blooms.

As officials relax concerns about a complete breach at the old phosphate plant, inviting evacuees back to their homes this week, environmental groups warn neighboring communities are far from being out of the danger zone.

Adam Fernandez, a board member with the Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, said the next step is preparing for the consequences - including a red tide outbreak, from the unprecedented amount of nutrients being dumped into Florida's largest estuary.

"Now, it's that there's upwards of 500 tons of nitrogen that have been released into the bay," said Fernandez. "That is insane. That's an insane, biblical amount of nitrogen they released into our bay."

Manatee County Commissioners voted Tuesday to get rid of the wastewater being held at the abandoned facility's ponds permanently - using an injection well to treat the water, then dump it deep into the Floridan Aquifer.

On Wednesday, the Florida Senate approved adding $3 million to the state budget to help with cleanup at the site.

Fernandez said he worries a massive algal bloom will kill off a lot of seagrass, which supports the fisheries, and will create a domino effect throughout the environment.

"Red tide that comes in, you know," said Fernandez, "that chokes out all the oxygen in the water, and it can lead to massive fish kills, which we hate to see."

The Center for Biological Diversity is among the groups calling for long-term solutions, including closing plants that create phosphogypsum, the radioactive waste from processing phosphate.

They also say dumping the phosphate industry's pollution into the aquifer isn't the best solution, and have been petitioning for stronger federal oversight at existing facilities.




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