Dec 20, 2021 - News

Permit approved to drain polluted Piney Point into the aquifer

An earthen wall, side of a containment pond at the former Piney Point phosphate plant grounds, where officials earlier this year ordered residents to evacuate after a leak was discovered.
An earthen wall, side of a containment pond at the former Piney Point phosphate plant grounds, where officials earlier this year ordered residents to evacuate after a leak was discovered. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has approved a permit for a well that would drain the polluted water at the old Piney Point phosphate plant deep underground, into the Lower Floridian Aquifer, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Flashback: The former phosphate processing plant has long been an environmental disaster.

  • Earlier this year, site operators discovered that one of the contaminated ponds was leaking, forcing the state to dump 215 million gallons into Tampa Bay so the pond walls wouldn't collapse.

What they're saying: "This project is one critical element of the necessary water disposal that will enable the ultimate closure of the Piney Point facility once and for all, eliminating the threat from this site to the environment and the community permanently," FDEP said in a statement.

Yes, but: Critics say the solution, first considered in 2013 and then rejected, might make things worse.

  • "Maybe instead of 'the Sunshine State,' we should call ourselves the 'Out of Sight, Out of Mind State' because that seems to be the reasoning behind parking millions of gallons of various kinds of pollution underground and hoping it doesn't get loose," wrote environmental journalist Craig Pittman.
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Tampa Bay stories

No stories could be found

Tampa Baypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more