Thursday’s permit was issued by state environmental regulators to allow the pumping of polluted water from the Piney Point plant, which is currently in crisis, to reach 3,000 feet below surface level.
The ruling grants the green light for a plan to eliminate all the water from the troubled stack. An earlier leak in the earthern-berm caused more than 200 million gallon of polluted waters to flow into Tampa Bay. The plan would inject around 4 million gallons of water per day below the drinking-water aquifer.
This is the best solution according to state and local environmental officials, as the earthen walls are still at risk of falling.
Nikki Fried, Agriculture Commissioner, blasted the plan. She tweeted that it was “beyond reckless” and “a mistake historical proportions that will damage our environment for many years to come.”
Scott Hopes, Manatee County Administrator said that the plan was to draw down more 600 million gallons stored in three ponds on top of the Gypsum stack.
Hopes stated in a written statement that we will expeditiously make this fully operational as soon possible.
Crews are already preparing for drilling the well on county-owned land. This is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
There are currently six other deep-well injection locations in Manatee County, one privately operated, one managed by Bradenton and four under the jurisdiction of Manatee County Utilities.
This is a proven technology, according to Mike Gore, Manatee Director for Utilities. This is a proven method to safely dispose off effluent for more than three decades.
The state of Florida is providing emergency funding that will pay for the well. There are millions of dollars set aside for the cleanup and closure. The site will eventually be re-lined and capped before being covered with soil and sod.