Environmental concerns remain despite progress at Piney Point

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The immediate danger of a total collapse of the Piney Point gypsum stack appears to be over. The environmental impact is not.

Florida Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried toured the Piney Point facility on Tuesday, saying she’s been assured that water being pumped into Tampa Bay from Piney Point is not toxic.

“There are not concerns on the water quality, that EPA and DEP have tested, they still feel it’s pretty safe levels, but they are going to monitor it to make sure it doesn’t escalate with different waters coming out from different parts of the pond,” said Fried.

A report from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection says the water being pumped out of the retention pond at Piney Point is not radioactive.

“The water being discharged from the NGS-South containment area at Piney Point is mixed sea water (primarily saltwater from the Port Manatee dredge project, mixed with legacy process water and stormwater runoff/rainfall). It has been tested, and it is not radioactive,” the DEP said in a statement. “In fact, the water meets all water quality standards for marine waters with the exception of pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen and total ammonia nitrogen. It is slightly acidic.”

The Manatee County Commission is discussing a plan that involves deep well injection to get rid of the water being stored at the Piney Point facility. But Fried says she’s not convinced that deep well injection is the answer.

“Any time you have an environmental impact like this you have to be concerned,” she said. “We’ve got to protect our Everglades, we’ve got to protect our aquifers and I have said in the past that I have huge concerns with deep well injections, especially with doing it so close to the Everglades. And this is something that I continue to be concerned about.”

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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