MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Earl Wright lives less than two miles from the troubled Piney Point facility. For decades it served as a storage for phosphogypsum, a slightly radioactive byproduct of the phosphate industry.
At the top of the gypsum stacks are several containment ponds that store millions of gallons of contaminated wastewater.
In April a breach in the wall of one of the containment ponds forced the evacuation of homeowners in the surrounding community. People on Wright’s street were ordered to leave.
Now Manatee County is seeking to take the water from the containment ponds and inject it deep underground.
“Obviously that concerns me, we are on well water here,” said Wright.
The county has assured residents the water will not contaminate their well water.
“If that’s the case and science supports that it’s not going to be a big deal then I’m not overly concerned about it,” said Wright.
Herb Donica is a Tampa attorney who has now been appointed as the receiver of the Piney Point facility. Donica says he was initially opposed to the deep well injection plan too.
“I will tell you, right upfront, I was against it when I first heard about it,” said Donica.
He says he changed his mind after researching the issues involved.
“It’s a lot safer than I originally thought when you examine the geology of the area. That wastewater can be captured underneath the aquifer,” said Donica.
The county held a meeting on Wednesday to inform residents about the deep well injection plan and to hear their concerns.
Donica says if someone has a better plan he’s willing to listen but for now, he believes deep well injection is the way to go.
“There are some very definite layers where it can be captured and held safe. It will self-clean in the soil over a number of years,” said Donica.