ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Researchers believe polluted water from the Piney Point site in 2021 made its way into the Gulf of Mexico, traveling all the way to north Pinellas County and possibly beyond. 

That's according to a published report.

More than 215 million gallons of wastewater pumped into Tampa Bay, the result of the disastrous leak at Piney Point.

Water testing that has followed revealed traces of it in St. Joseph Sound, near Tarpon Springs.

Marcus Beck, a scientist with Tampa Bay Estuary Program and one of the study’s authors, says the findings are a valuable lesson for the regulatory community and the scientists who have the potential to influence their decisions.

“It’s sort of a tale of, ‘We could’ve done better but also we can do better moving forward in terms of how we manage these facilities,’” Beck said. “Because we have to co-exist with the industry and these resources that we care about.”

The report was published at the end of May in “Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution,” an international journal.

View the story above by Spectrum Bay News 9's Cait McVey