Florida DEP approves construction of injection well at Piney Point
MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) – Manatee County officials confirm that construction will begin next week to construct an injection well to drain more than 200 million gallons of wastewater from the former treatment site of the phosphate at Piney Point.
Piney Point receivership officer Herbert Donica confirmed to ABC7 that the permit for an injection well has been approved by the Department of Environmental Protection.
This follows news of complaints filed against HRK Holdings. The decades-old problems came to a head in April when a leak in a holding pond, called a phosphogypsum stack, forced operators to dump 215 million gallons of nutrient-laden sewage into Tampa Bay to avoid an even greater catastrophe.
The Class I injection well will pump treated wastewater from the Piney Point stacks below the lowest groundwater source of potable water. DEP indicates that injection wells are designed to provide multiple layers of protective coating and cement.
Class I injection wells are monitored to ensure that wastes do not reach other water sources. Tests are performed on all Class I injection wells at least every five years to determine the structural integrity of the well, according to the DEP website.
The theory behind injection wells is that potentially hazardous waste is separated from an aquifer by several layers of rock. If one layer is leaking, the next layer prevents wastes from spreading before they reach the groundwater.
Concern remains among community members and environmentalists. Many fear the well will fail, which could lead to more environmental problems.
The problem, critics say, is that in reality geological formations are never as sharp as they usually appear in sketches. They often bend and twist, making leaks more likely.
DEP says the risk is minimal. “In places where hydrogeological conditions are suitable and other disposal methods are not possible or may cause contamination, underground injection (…) is considered a viable and legal method of disposal”, indicates its website. “
The planned drill site is directly across from the Piney Point facility, in the block of 31st Terrace East and 36th Avenue East.
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