The Office of Pipeline Safety Southern Region works with the Florida Public Service Commission.
"We're a very open society," said Greg Laughlin, a former U.S. representative from Texas who worked to improve pipeline safety. "And it allows for terrorists and stupid people to do terrible things."
Three teens who thought there was money in an ammonia pipe running under the Alafia River bridge drilled a hole into in and released an ammonia cloud.
Faced with a cloud of toxic ammonia gas in the air near homes and schools, county officials had to choose between public health and environmental damage. Firefighters doused the cloud with water, sending ammonia into the river. Benjamin Franco, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency, said human life was the first priority. "The vapor has actually reached people," he said. "The environment is second at this point."
There were no signs of a fish kill on Tuesday, and drinking water will not be affected because Tampa Bay Water draws its supply several miles upstream from the leak site.
But environmental officials said Tuesday that it was too soon to tell the leak's ultimate impact. The ammonia could fertilize algae, deplete the water's oxygen supply and suffocate fish.
U.S. Dept. of Transportation letter to Tampa Bay Pipeline.