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Piney Point closure plan: Injection well could be pumping in 2022, facility capped by 2024

MANATEE COUNTY – A newly-minted closure plan will now allow the bid process to start for projects aimed at draining and capping the four stacks at the long-troubled Piney Point.

It has now been just about a year since a gaping hole in the shuttered fertilizer facility’s southern stack sent toxic water into the environment. State leaders decided pumping about 215 million gallons of stack water into the bay was the best way to avoid a catastrophic collapse that could have sent a wall of water into the community.

Critics blamed the nitrogen-rich water for fueling last summer’s red tide but there was never a scientific consensus on the disaster’s impact.

Job one continues to be draining the stacks, with the controversial deep well expected to be operational as early as the fall.

Then, about a million gallons a day will be sent about 3,000 feet into the ground. That is safely below the aquifer, according to proponents. Environmentalists have said deep well injections are an inexact science that could one day impact our drinking water.

According to the DEP’s newly-approved conceptual closing plan, once the stacks are empty, grass will be grown on two feet of soil that will be packed over new liners. A drainage system featuring notches in the stack walls will allow for rainwater to drain out of the stacks once the project is complete.