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Manatee BOCC asks State for deep well injection at Piney Point

MANATEE COUNTY — At Tuesday’s meeting, Manatee County Commissioners voted 6-1 to express a preference to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that it use deep-well injection to dispose of the toxic mess left by a former phosphate mining site at Piney Point, near Port Manatee.

The vote would change the county's previously-approved legislative priorities issued to the state to express the preference. The site, which was shut down after the owner filed for bankruptcy and has passed through multiple owners since, has a phosphogypsum stack that contains radium, ammonia, phosphorus, and heavy metals.

The issue, which has consistently been described as a ticking time bomb, involves hundreds of millions of gallons of remaining toxic process water in two ponds, along with the gypsum stacks (which are surrounded by two unintentional pools of high-chloride seawater) and a large seepage collection ditch where spoiled water from the saturated gypsum stacks can be corralled as it slowly leaks.