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National Information


Excavation of contaminated soil, June 2014

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: MSD008154486
Location: Gulfport, Harrison County, Mississippi
Congressional District:
NPL Status: Final
Affected Media: soil, groundwater
Cleanup Status: not implemented
Human Exposure Under Control: yes
Ground water Migration Under Control: No
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment:
Site Manager: Brian Farrier (farrier.brian@epa.gov)

Current Status

In 2013, EPA amended the cleanup plan for the site and finalized a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) to compel the State of Mississippi to implement the cleanup actions at the site. EPA and the State of Mississippi also negotiated a resolution of outstanding enforcement issues at the site. In March 2014, a public availability session was held in Gulfport as site cleanup activities began.

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Site Location

The Chemfax, Inc. site is located in Gulfport, Harrison County, Mississippi. It is bordered to the east by Three Rivers Road and by Creosote Road to the south. Located to the north is County Barn Road and Bernard Bayou, and to the west are a rail line and the abandoned Alpine Masonite facility.

View site location map.


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Site Background

The Chemfax site occupies 11 acres and was established in March 1955. It produced synthetic hydrocarbon resins and waxes from petroleum products. The primary operation at the time business ceased in 1995 was a paraffin blending process in which different grades of paraffin wax were heated together to a liquid state, blended, and then cooled with water. Cooling water was obtained from an on-site industrial well and stored in an on-site holding pond and re-used.

The Site was proposed to the National Priorities List (NPL) in May, 1993 and finalized on the NPL in March 2012.

Data obtained during both a 1995 Remedial Investigation (RI) and the 1999 Supplemental Groundwater Investigation indicates that the groundwater within the unconfined surficial aquifer at the Site is contaminated. The surficial groundwater aquifer at the Site is of poor quality as a drinking water resource, but is considered a potential source of drinking water. Data from the Remedial Investigation (RI) indicate that contaminated site soils and sediments are contaminated at levels which could cause further groundwater contamination in the future.

In 1999, EPA conducted a removal action at this site that resulted in approximately 2000 tons of contaminated soil being taken off-site. The purpose of that removal action was to address imminent threats posed by the site.

In 2002 EPA finalized a ROD for the site. Although this ROD addresses many of the same areas as the 1999 removal action, the purpose of the remedial actions is to permanently address long-term threats posed by the Site. The remedial action described in the 2002 ROD encompasses the cleanup of both the contaminated soils/sediments and groundwater associated with the Site. The groundwater remedy in the 2002 ROD was extraction and treatment. In 2013, EPA issued an amended ROD (AROD) that removed the requirement for groundwater extraction and treatment; instead, long-term monitoring of the groundwater would be conducted to ensure that contaminant levels in groundwater decreased with time.

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Threats and Contaminants

The primary contaminants at the site in the soils, ground water, surface water, and sediment are BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes), and PAHs (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons).

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

EPA is the lead and the State of Mississippi, as represented by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), has been the support agency during the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) process for the Chemfax, Inc. Site. They have reviewed the documents that comprise the RI/FS and have concurred with the selected remedy in the 2002 ROD and with the amended remedy selected in the 2013 AROD.

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Site Cleanup Plan

The 2002 ROD selected methods to address contamination at the Chemfax site. These remedial actions would address both the remaining principal threats posed by this Site (site soils and sediments) and the contaminated groundwater beneath the Site. The remedial action selected in the 2002 ROD for the soils/sediments was excavation and off-site disposal at an approved facility. The selected remedial action for the groundwater called for pumping of the groundwater to the surface, where it would be treated by physical and/or chemical means.

The major components of the selected remedy detailed in the 2002 ROD include:

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Cleanup Progress

In December 1998, an EPA Site visit revealed that the Site was easily accessible, many drums were stored on-site, and the Site buildings were being lived in by transients. These Site conditions were addressed through Superfund's removal authority, which is intended to address short-term threats to public health and the environment. A removal action was started in July 1999 and was completed December 1999. Several activities were conducted as part of EPA's removal action. Site security was improved in order to limit access to the Site. Asbestos present on remaining equipment was removed and disposed off-site. Drums remaining on-site were removed offsite. Contents remaining in on-site storage tanks were also disposed off-site, in addition to approximately 2,000 cubic yards of excavated soils. Finally, most of the processing lines, tank farms, bulk storage areas, buildings, and structures were dismantled.

In 2009, the Site was re-characterized by Environmental Management Services, Inc. for the EPA and MDEQ to reevaluate the impacts to soil and groundwater since the EPA's removal action in 1999. The updated data showed the groundwater in the area in the uppermost zone is isolated from the drinking-water supply in the Gulfport area and that a pump and treat remedy would be difficult to implement successfully. The data also showed that levels of contaminants, i.e., benzene and PAHs (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons), remained at concentrations that would not biodegrade successfully as a stand-alone cleanup approach.

EPA and MDEQ's analysis showed additional source removal for the soils within the saturated zone and monitored natural attenuation in the shallow groundwater would be an effective means of addressing the remaining contaminants. The amended remedial action described in the 2013 ROD Amendment selected excavation and off-site disposal at an approved facility for the soils/sediments, while the amended groundwater remedial action calls for monitoring the natural attenuation of the contaminants in the groundwater until remedial goals are achieved.  The major components of the selected amended remedy include:

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Enforcement Activities

The Site is situated on Sixteenth Section land. Title to Sixteenth Section land is vested in the State of Mississippi, in trust for the support of public education. Lease payments during the Site's operation were made to the Harrison County School Board.

In July 2013, EPA finalized a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) to compel the State of Mississippi to implement the cleanup actions at the site. EPA and the State of Mississippi also negotiated a resolution of outstanding enforcement issues at the site, including past costs. Future remedial costs are being paid by the State of Mississippi.

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Community Involvement

In January of 1995, EPA conducted community interviews with local officials, residents around the Site, and other parties in the area who were interested in the cleanup. On January 19, 1995 an open house was held for the public to inform them of the Remedial Investigation activities taking place at that time.

A second public meeting was held on September 18, 1995 to inform the public what had been found during the RI field work, and that site activities were being halted since the site had not been finalized on the NPL

A third public meeting was held on November 16, 1999. At that meeting, the public was informed of the cleanup activity that was conducted as part of Superfund's removal action. The public was also informed of EPA's decision to complete a Feasibility Study, and what the next steps in the remedial process would be.

On July 20, 2000, EPA held a fourth public meeting to present to the public the Proposed Plan for remedial action at the Site.

In 2011, EPA issued an amended Proposed Plan as part of the process to modify the remedy. The MDEQ reviewed and concurred with the remedy described in the Proposed Plan for this amended remedial action prior to it being released for public comment. EPA published a notice of availability for the Proposed Plan in the Biloxi Sun-Herald newspaper and provided the public an opportunity to provide EPA written and oral comments from October 1 to October 31, 2011. No comments were received. The public was also given the opportunity to comment during the public meeting held on October 13, 2011 at the Crossroads Elementary School library, 10453 Klein Road, Gulfport, MS. Comments from this public meeting are also included in the Responsiveness Summary of the 2013 ROD Amendment. A copy of the transcript of that public meeting is available to the public as part of the Administrative Record (AR).

The AR is available to the public, at both the information repository maintained at the Orange Grove Public Library, formerly located at 12031 Mobile Avenue and now located at 12135 Old Highway 49, Gulfport, Mississippi, and at the EPA Region 4 Library located at 61 Forsyth St., S.W., in Atlanta, Georgia.
Fact Sheets

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Future Work

The Remedial Design/Remedial Action (RD/RA) Work Plan was finalized in March 2014 with EPA review and approval. The RD/RA Work Plan details how the remedial action described in the 2013 ROD Amendment will be performed. A public availability sessionw as held on March 18 to inform the public that the remedial cleanup was beginning. As of July 15, 2014, 35,000 tons of contaminated soils had been excavated and disposed off-site, with total tonnage expected to be significantly greater than that originally anticipated. the cleanup is expected to be completed by August 31, 2014.

Groudwater will be monitored regularly in the future to ensure that contaminants levels in the groundwater beneath the site are decreasing.

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Additional Information

Site Repository

For more information or to view any site-related documents, please visit the site information repository at the following location or access site information online. As new documents are generated, they will be placed in the information repository.

The Orange Grove Public Library
12135 Old Highway 49
Gulfport, Mississippi 39503

For documents that are not available online, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

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