PALMETTO, Fla. - The Piney Point phosphate plant has switched hands, gone through bankruptcy, and threatened surrounding homes and the environment, many times. After 56 years, Piney Point is on track to be shut down for good.
"We can show the public now what we intend to do to remediate that area, make it safe and close it out for good," said Herbert Donica, the court-appointed receiver for the property.
Last week, The Department of Environmental Protection signed off on the closure plan with a planned closing date by the end of 2024.
"Our goal is to keep the ball rolling and close it out as quickly as we can," said Donica.
That includes draining the stacks, injecting millions of gallons of treated water down a deep well, lining empty stacks with plastic and covering them with soil. A drainage system will also be added around the property.
"It's a very comprehensive plan. It’s going to result in a complete drainage of the gypsum stacks which will make them safe," said Donica. "No more eruptions, sidewall deterioration. They will not hold water going forward. That’s the most important thing for people to understand."
Closing down Piney Point will be reliant on Manatee County and the deep well injection site they're working on. Their drill has already made it to 1,200 feet and the injection zone is another 2,000 feet below that.
The well will reach a depth of about 2,000 feet below the Florida aquifer, where authorities said it can't contaminate the state's water supply.
"We started the drilling earlier this year, and we are ahead of schedule and that is the critical component to beginning the closure process," said Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes.
The process also depends on weather and how much rain the county will experience in the future. Once closed the land can not house a business or industrial complex.
Manatee County hopes to turn it into a BMX Park or soccer fields. But, an end date to Piney Point is one many have waited for.