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Gibsonton, Florida | 1988-May-04

Initial Notification: On May 4, 1988, the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, Tampa, learned of a major phosphoric acid spill from the Gardinier, Inc. fertilizer plant in Gibsonton. The spill had apparently occurred over the weekend of April 30-May 1. The first indication that a spill had occurred at the facility came from a citizen complaint to the county on May 2. At this time, Gardinier indicated that a spill had occurred over the weekend but was contained on-site. On May 3, Gardinier called the county to indicate that a large fish kill had occurred in the mouth of the Alafia River and that some of the spilled acid may have entered the river. The Coast Guard learned of the spill from media reports on May 4 and confirmed the information with the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation. It was later learned that approximately 336 tons of PFS fertilizing solution (75% phosphoric acid) had entered the river over the weekend. This was out of a total of 3,937 tons spilled during transfer procedures on April 30. The acid sank to the bottom of the turning basin at the mouth of the river, then migrated upriver and out along the bottom of the dredged channel into Hillsborough Bay with the tides. On May 3 lowered pH values were detected from approximately one mile out the channel into the bay upriver 4.5 miles to the Route 301 bridge. USCG district 7.

Incident Details
Products of concern:Phosphoric acid
Latitude (approximate): 27° 51.35′ North
Longitude (approximate): 82° 23.26′ West