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Mississippi Phosphates plant reports fire on property (Updated 2:30 p.m.)

The Mississippi Phosphates plant on Industrial Road east of Pascagoula reported a fire in a shed on the property at 1:13 p.m.

The Pascagoula Fire Department responded along with efforts at the plant and the fire was out within 10 minutes, according to Jackson County emergency management officials.

The fertilizer plant, at 601 Industrial Road, was in the news last year when the EPA cited violations that included inadequate safety equipment and improper storage, as well as spills and leaks of solid and liquid wastes.

Tommy McKiernon, vice president and general manager of the plant, said at 2:15 p.m. that the fire was not related to EPA violations last year. He said the shed had been converted to a warehouse where torches were used for cutting material. A heated piece of material had smoldered and caused the fire while workers were on their lunch break, McKiernon said.

Concerning the EPA citations in October, McKiernon said the company is making progress.

"I can't say it is settled, but they've given us a list of items and we've addressed them with their approval," McKiernon said. "They've been back for a site visit and expressed approval.

He said the EPA returned in April and did a walk-through of the plant. He said Mississippi Phosphates has been in communication with the EPA throughout the process in an effort to meet the agency's requirements.

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