Jackson County

As newest Superfund site, Coast gypsum piles to get ‘immediate, intense’ attention

The Mississippi Phosphate Corporation, in trouble with the EPA on an off for the releases of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents to soil and surface water, went bankrupt and left piles of waste gypsum to maintain. They have become a superfund site.
The Mississippi Phosphate Corporation, in trouble with the EPA on an off for the releases of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents to soil and surface water, went bankrupt and left piles of waste gypsum to maintain. They have become a superfund site. SUN HERALD

They made the latest list for Superfund sites.

The Mississippi Phosphates mountains of waste gypsum — that include heavy metals and produce low-level radiation and a lake of acidic water — are on the list and will get ‘immediate, intense’ attention, according to an EPA press release.

The list has 21 sites across the Unites States and is in direct response to the Superfund Task Force recommendations, issued this summer.

“By elevating these sites we are sending a message that EPA is, in fact, restoring its Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the agency’s mission,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Getting toxic land sites cleaned up and revitalized is of the utmost importance to the communities across the country,” he said.

Plans are in the works for the Pascagoula site.

Getting the new Superfund sites cleaned up will help the EPA continue to focus on ways to improve public health and the environment in America, he said.

Pascagoula Mayor Dane Maxwell said he was grateful to the EPA for understanding how important it is to the Pascagoula community to restore this huge site.

“I sincerely appreciate Administrator Pruitt’s work on this,” Maxwell said.

The site, a former diammonium phosphate fertilizer plant, began in the 1950s and went bankrupt in 2014. During that time, it piled acidic, industrial waste gypsum into two mountains in east Pascagoula that in the end held 700 million gallons of acid water that has had to be treated.

The EPA took over the site earlier this year and has been spending $1 million a month to treat the wastewater from the mountains so it doesn’t kill nearby waterways.

It has been treating 2 million gallons a day. But rain adds to the water level.

The Pascagoula site joins at least two other Superfund sites in coastal Mississippi in recent decades — Chemfax in Gulfport and Picayune Wood Treating site in Picayune.

The Administrator will receive regular updates on each of the new sites. But there is no commitment of additional funding associated with a site’s inclusion on the list, according to the EPA.

The EPA hopes to expedite remediation, explore efforts at reuse of the site, encourage private investment, promote redevelopment and engage with partners and stakeholders.

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