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Manatee County continues Piney Point injection well work

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MANATEE COUNTY – In the ongoing effort to write the final chapter in the Piney Point site closure, Manatee County officials are working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to make minor modifications in its disposal permits.

The County Utilities Department has an application with the FDEP to modify a current permit to allow more injection of brine (saltwater) at the Buffalo Creek municipal well. This request comes after Allied Universal Industries—a local chlorine manufacturer whose products have been an integral part of the Piney Point pre-treatment process—has ramped up production at their Palmetto facility.

“This is a typical permit modification,” said Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes. “Allied has increased their chlorine production—at a plant that was built with Manatee County economic incentives—and we are fortunate that they are nearby Piney Point to help with the pre-treatment of that process water.”

Because of that increase in chlorine production, there has been an analogous uptick in the brine that is left over from that process, and the County is working with Allied to reduce their burden of its disposal with an alternative to trucking the saltwater that remains to disposal facilities in other Florida counties.

The Buffalo Creek Injection well was initially designed to dispose of brine that would have been created with a reverse-osmosis water filtration plan. This use would be a modification of the permit, but it is a similar use. Utilities staff and County administration have worked to make sure all regulatory benchmarks and best practices are met—and exceeded—throughout the permitting process.

Seeking a permit modification is a typical part of the regulatory process and does not represent a change in what will be disposed of in the well, nor does it mean that Piney Point process water will routinely go into the Buffalo Creek well. There have been some contingencies identified where that process water could go into the Buffalo Creek well, but that is only as a back-up.

“This is a real team effort,” said Administrator Hopes. “We are all doing everything we can to bring this Piney Point story to a close. Quickly. Completely. And safely.”