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Report Blames Sewage Spills On Albert Whitted's Closure

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The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A state investigation into St. Petersburg's sewage spills places much of the blame on the decision to close the Albert Whitted wastewater treatment facility.

A draft report on the investigation was not released to the public but a version was published by the Tampa Bay Times.

The report said it was a gamble to close the Abert Whitted plant in 2015 before the city’s three other wastewater treatment facilities were upgraded.

The decision that led to the closure was made by the St. Petersburg City Council in 2011.

Between 2015 and 2016, roughly 200 million gallons of partially-treated sewage overflowed onto city streets and into Tampa Bay.

Public Works administrator Claude Tankersley, says in hindsight its clear mistakes were made.

"If mistakes were made I think they were mistakes of oversight or just not fully understanding the implications of the closure."

State Attorney Bernie McCabe decided not to bring criminal charges against city employees after reading the draft and determining that no individual could be held accountable. He said that decision could change after the state completes its investigation. 

“If they are not finished and they come up with something more that we can look at then we will,” McCabe said.  

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.