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Injection Wells Used to Dispose of Hazardous Waste in Florida

Hazardous Waste and Injection Wells

Hazardous waste is a significant source of water pollution that includes dangerous chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment. Hazardous materials may cause severe health and safety problems if not handled correctly. Waste sources include dangerous byproduct materials generated by factories, farms, and construction sites. According to a report released on March 29, 2018, by the Environment Florida Research and Policy Center, industrial facilities dumped 270 times the allowed amount into Florida's waters. The tenth worst total in the nation. 

According to the Florida Department of Protection, there are over 2,100 permitted industrial wastewater facilities in Florida. Many industrial facilities use freshwater to carry away waste into waterways. Wastewater is water that has been harmfully affected by outside influence, and that flows from an open drain. For instance, power plants are near bodies of water and discharge a significant level of metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and chromium into the water. Typical industrial waste could include PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene), asbestos, lead, mercury, nitrates, phosphates, sulfur, oils, and petrochemicals. This water ends up in an environment where it is much more harmful to humans than irrigation water. 

Since the 1960s, deep injection wells (DJW) have been used to protect the aquifer in Florida. The injection wells are used to dispose of hazardous liquid by injecting it underground. These wells use a high-pressure pump to force toxic waste down a pipeline into the deep earth. However, waste fluids have the potential to migrate to the surface through abandoned groundwater wells. Injection wells are an invisible dumping ground for polluters. Florida has minimal enforcement and weak protections when it comes to hazardous waste. Polluters are not being held accountable for dumping chemicals that threaten our health and environment. 

There are different solutions to these growing issues like limiting pollution at its source, better laws to protect the environment, and establishing limits on pollution that's protective of health. We can also take action through the personal choices we make by looking for non-toxic solutions.

Recommended Reading:

Environmental Florida: Troubled Waters
Environmental Protection Agency: Industrial Wastewater

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