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The Sunshine Skyway bridge from Bishop Harbor at Terra Ceia Preserve, just south of where polluted water is being discharged from the old Piney Point phosphate plant. Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios

The head of Florida's Department of Environmental Protection has vowed repeatedly to hold the owner of the leaking Piney Point phosphate plant "accountable" for pollution that threatens to crush marine life in Tampa Bay and hurt local tourism.

Yes, but: That's easier said than done.

The big picture: Owner HRK Holdings went bankrupt after a massive spill in 2011, the Bradenton Herald reports, and has been saying it can't pay the millions needed for that cleanup.

  • And there's been no word from HRK’s principal owner: William "Mickey" F. Harley III, a Wall Street executive and former hedge fund manager with a history of snapping up bankrupt or struggling companies, according to the Herald.

The backdrop: Harley's HRK Holdings bought the former phosphate mine in 2006 for $4.3 million solely to store dredging disposal from Port Manatee.

The bottom line: "I'd love to string them up, but the reality of the situation is they have one shell company after another. These guys are rich and smart and they know what they’re doing," said Manatee County Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge.

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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Go deeper

Manatee County lifts evacuation order near Piney Point leak

Port Manatee, where water from the containment pond at the old Piney Point phosophate plant is being released into Tampa Bay. Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios

Officials on Tuesday reopened roads and lifted the evacuation order for residents and businesses near the old Piney Point phosphate plant as they continued to pump nutrient-rich water into Tampa Bay at Port Manatee to relieve pressure on the leak and look for ways to seal it.

What's new: Manatee County commission chairwoman Vanessa Baugh said that the commission approved a nearby injection well to funnel treated water from the leak into the deep earth instead of Tampa Bay, and assured local residents that their drinking water is safe.

What we know about the victims of the Indianapolis mass shooting

Officials load a body into a vehicle at the site of the mass shooting in Indianapolis. Photo:

Eight people who were killed along with several others who were injured in a Thursday evening shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis have been identified by local law enforcement.

The big picture: The Sikh Coalition said at least four of the eight victims were members of the Indianapolis Sikh community.

Pompeo, wife misused State Dept. resources, federal watchdog finds

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The State Department's independent watchdog found that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules when he and his wife asked department employees to perform personal tasks on more than 100 occasions, including picking up their dog and making private dinner reservations.

Why it matters: The report comes as Pompeo pours money into a new political group amid speculation about a possible 2024 presidential run.