As water cannons spray close by, Mike Clark of Houston lines up a gate Tuesday to help stop an ammonia leak near the Alafia River. The breach created transportation nightmares.
TAMPA - The attorney for Hulk Hogan's son has a new client: the teenager accused of puncturing an ammonia pipeline.
Tampa attorney Morris "Sandy" Weinberg Jr. confirmed Thursday that he represents the 16-year-old who deputies say drilled into a pipeline Monday at the Alafia River.
Investigators say the teen believed a legend about cash hidden in the pipe, but that his actions unleashed a cloud of ammonia over Riverview, forcing the evacuation of nearby neighborhoods. Reports conflicted Thursday over the impact of the ammonia on fish.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has withheld the teen's identity and is still investigating. No charges have been filed.
Weinberg, who is defending Hogan's 17-year-old son Nick Bollea against charges in a traffic crash, declined to identify the teen in the pipeline case.
Although residents have returned to their homes, the consequences of the pipe breach are still coming to light.
On Tuesday morning, Riverview resident John Schimenti found what he said were thousands of dead fish washed ashore at the Alafia River.
Wednesday, he spoke with an official at Hillsborough's Environmental Protection Commission.
At a presentation Thursday, Tony D'Aquila, an EPC manager, mentioned that a resident reported a fish kill, but not before hetold commissioners that his staff "still hadn't seen a fish kill or anything out of the ordinary."
"We dodged a bullet," he said, explaining that saltwater from the bay trapped the ammonia, preventing it from seeping further beneath the surface.
As D'Aquila delivered that news to commissioners, scientists met with Schimenti and saw the remaining dead fish. "They seemed surprised," Schimenti said. "They knew it was a fish kill."
Richard Garrity, the EPC's executive director, said the agency wasn't reporting fish kills because its scientists weren't finding them.
Times staff writer Catherine E. Shoichet and news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Abbie VanSickle can be reached at email@example.com or 813-226-3373.