Piney Point Phosphate Mine waste water to be injected in ground

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MANATEE COUNTY--For years, hundreds of millions of gallons of waste water from the old Piney Point Phosphate Mine has been sitting in gypsum stacks in north Manatee County.  Now the county has plans to get rid of what some say is contaminated water.  But, the move is causing much concern for local farmers and envormental groups.

"This water, we've watched it over the years cause huge environmental problems." said local potato farm owner Allen Jones.

Jones is among the many concerned about Manatee County Government's plan to pump hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater from an abandoned phosphate plant, into the ground.

"Im trying to feed a nation with a high quality, low cost food items, with our potato, green beans, and citrus.  And, if my wells are deemed unsuitable due the malfeasance of our government, what is my repercussions.  Their are none!" said Jones.

The county has requested permits from Department of Environmental Protection, to build two underground injection wells.  The first would pump Class 5, processed recharged water, currently being held in the gypsum stacks at the abandoned Piney Point Phosphate Mine into the underground aquifer.

The second well, and the one that's causing much of the concern, would be deeper in the ground.  It will contain Class 1 water, which is known to be more acidic as well as contain small amount of other minerals.  But, officials stress it would not be harmful.

"The water has been evaluated and tested by the Department of Environmental Protection and has been found to be non hazardous.  It is highly nutrient packed, but it does have a high acidic levels and a high salinization levels," said Amy Pilson with Manatee County.

But growers like Jones disagree saying, "Truth be know, that there are heavy metals in this water.  There's radon, radio active tendencies in this water, its very acidic, their chlorides, their sulfates, there's a whole list of things that are in this water."

The county says they have requested a delay in immediate approve for the permits so they can collect more comments from the community. But when we contacted DEP they said they haven't denied similar permits since 1987.