Harrison County

Gulfport Superfund site cleaned up, EPA says

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD 
 The old Chemfax Inc. site in Gulfport, photographed in March 2014, is ready for use after being cleaned up as an EPA Superfund Site. The 11 acres sits at the intersection of Creosote and Three Rivers roads just south of Interstate 10.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD The old Chemfax Inc. site in Gulfport, photographed in March 2014, is ready for use after being cleaned up as an EPA Superfund Site. The 11 acres sits at the intersection of Creosote and Three Rivers roads just south of Interstate 10. SUN HERALD

GULFPORT -- Cleanup has been completed at the old Chemfax Inc. site in Gulfport, the Environmental Protection Agency says, but long-term monitoring of groundwater will be needed.

An EPA news release said groundwater will be monitored to make sure contamination decreases and remains on the site. Groundwater monitoring wells have been placed on the site. Use of the groundwater is restricted.

The Harrison County School District owns the 16th-Section Land south of Interstate 10 at Creosote and Three Rivers roads. The 11 acres is an EPA Superfund site, placed on the agency's National Priorities List in 2012.

Chemfax, which operated from 1955-95, produced synthetic hydrocarbon resins and waxes from petroleum products that can cause cancer. A news release from the EPA said contaminants on the site included benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and naphthalene. Chemicals leeched into the groundwater, which must be monitored.

A 1999 cleanup removed old drums, storage tanks, tank contents, asbestos and 3,400 cubic yards of contaminated soils. Most buildings, bulk-storage areas and other structures also were dismantled.

Other remedial action started in April 2014. Contaminated soil was excavated and disposed of at the Pecan Grove Landfill in Pass Christian. The EPA encountered funding delays, plus more contaminated soil than anticipated, the news release says.

The EPA and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality oversaw the cleanup. The site will be subjected to five-year reviews, with the first review scheduled in 2021.

The EPA said the land is ready to be used again. The Secretary of State's Office holds 16th-Section Land in trust for the benefit of public schools. The acreage is part of one square mile that generates money for the Harrison County and Gulfport school districts from retail outlets such as Crossroads Mall, Sam's Club and Home Depot.

Harrison County School Superintendent Roy Gill said DEQ also must clear the property for use and it must be appraised before it is marketed.

"We would like to get it productive in some shape or fashion as soon as possible," Gill said.

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