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Piney Point Deep Well Injection Spill


According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Notice of Pollution: On 3/21/24, operations staff at the Manatee County Piney Point injection well pretreatment facility became aware of a release of untreated industrial wastewater on the plant site located at Piney Point.  The release occurred due to a power loss from a tripped breaker, which resulted in a loss of communications and control at the plant. When the plant lost power, the offsite transfer pump, which sends the industrial wastewater from the Piney Point site to the pretreatment plant, continued to pump, resulting in an overflow of approximately 6,000 gallons from the influent tanks. 

There are many problems associated with deep well injection. All wells are subject to failure, and there are too many unknowns to safely inject treated or partially treated effluent. The operation of a deep well relies heavily on predictions and good faith.

This latest spill clearly demonstrates that Manatee County and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection cannot safeguard against the pollution caused by the phosphate industry. 
While the models upon which decisions to inject wastes are based look good on paper, changing conditions at the well site and in the aquifers can allow wastewater to seep into the groundwater supply, and it would be too late to correct the problem then.

Deep well injection is done because liquid wastes that cannot be discharged into surface waters are injected into deep wells. Thus, the worst wastes end up in these wells. 
There is inadequate knowledge of how to adequately monitor a well. If a failure occurs, very little can be done to correct it. If an aquifer is contaminated, it's too late.
Deep well injection results in the acceptance of lower levels of protection for underground sources of water, which directly contradicts the spirit of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Manatee County officials appear to subscribe to the theory that the effluent injected at Piney Point would migrate to the Gulf of Mexico. However, because the County does not plan to filter the wastewater adequately, the necessary high-pressure injection will likely create new paths of migration.

Over the long term, treating wastes to advanced wastewater standards is cheaper rather than trying to dump secondarily treated wastes out of sight and finding later that serious pollution problems have occurred. 
ManaSota-88 continued to urge that deep-well injection of phosphate-related wastewater be prohibited throughout Florida.

Glenn Compton is the Chairman of ManaSota 88, a non-profit organization that has spent over 30 years fighting to protect the environment of Manatee and Sarasota counties.


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