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EPA Releases Cleanup Plan for Portions of the Mississippi Phosphates Corporation Site

Public Meeting Tonight and Public Comments Sought Through Feb. 10, 2018

01/11/2018
Contact Information: 
Davina Marraccini (marraccini.davina@epa.gov)
404-562-8293, 404-562-8400

ATLANTA (January 11, 2018) EPA has prepared a cleanup plan for portions of the Mississippi Phosphates Corporation (MPC) Site in Pascagoula, Miss. EPA invites public comment on the cleanup plan for 30 days, through Feb. 10, 2018. EPA is hosting a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight at the Pascagoula Senior Center, 1912 Live Oak Avenue in Pascagoula, to introduce the cleanup plan and answer questions.

EPA’s preferred cleanup alternatives, described in an Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA), are protective of human health and the environment, will eliminate storage of more than 500 million gallons of contaminated water on site, and will reduce the volume of water requiring treatment by an estimated 98 percent during an average precipitation year. The total cost to implement the three recommended alternatives is $71.6 million.

The cleanup plan is focused on the closure of the East Gypsum Stack and the North Ponds at the West Gypsum Stack. The work is divided into three phases and EPA evaluated several cleanup alternatives for each. The phases, timeframes and costs associated with EPA’s preferred cleanup alternatives are:

  • Phase 1 (2018) – Closure of the current East Gypsum Stack, including Pond 3 and Pond 4 and stack side slopes. Phase 1 will reduce rain water contact by 155 acres, or 41 percent. Cost of $31.4 million.
  • Phase 2 (2019) – Closure of East Gypsum Stack Pond 5 and the West Gypsum Stack North Ponds. Phase 2 will reduce rain water contact by an additional 90 acres, or 64 percent total. Cost of $18.4 million.
  • Phase 3 (2020) – Closure of East Gypsum Stack Pond 6 and the water return ditch around the perimeter of the East Gypsum Stack. Phase 3 results in 100 percent closure. Cost of $21.8 million.

The EE/CA is posted online at: https://semspub.epa.gov/work/04/11095514.pdf

The EE/CA and other site-related documents are also available for review at the information repository located in the Pascagoula Public Library at 3214 Pascagoula Street. Written comments may be e-mailed to zeller.craig@epa.gov or mailed to: Craig Zeller, U.S. EPA Region 4, Superfund Division - 11th Floor, 61 Forsyth Street SW, Atlanta, GA.

After considering all information received during the public comment period, EPA will consult with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and publish an Action Memorandum formalizing the cleanup plan.

MPC is a former diammonium phosphate fertilizer plant that ceased operations in December 2014 following bankruptcy, leaving more than 700,000,000 gallons of low-pH, contaminated wastewater stored at the facility. On Feb. 11, 2017, EPA assumed temporary control of wastewater treatment operations at the site once the MPC Environmental Trust, which owns the property, exhausted available funds.

EPA treats the wastewater to neutralize the pH and remove high levels of nutrients to prevent an uncontrolled release to Bayou Casotte and the Grand Bay Estuary Reserve. Neutralizing the pH prevents any acute toxicity impacts to aquatic wildlife. Removing nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorous and ammonia, prevents harmful algal blooms from forming.

These first phases of cleanup will be followed at a later date by a site-wide final cleanup. EPA will propose the site-wide cleanup plan to the public before a decision is made.

EPA is currently overseeing wastewater treatment at a rate of approximately 2,000,000 gallons per day – at a cost of approximately $1,000,000 per month – due to the high volume of wastewater generated that requires treatment. EPA will continue to oversee wastewater treatment operations at the MPC site until the facility is sold or cleaned up and closed.

On Dec. 8, 2017, EPA announced that the MPC site is among those that Administrator Pruitt has targeted for immediate and intense attention. The 21 sites on the list – from across the United States – are in direct response to the Superfund Task Force Recommendations, issued this summer, calling for this list.

EPA proposed listing the site on the Superfund National Priorities List on Aug. 3, 2017. EPA proposed the site to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) on August 3, 2017. On January 9, 2018, EPA announced the site is being added to the NPL.

More information about the MPC site: www.epa.gov/superfund/ms-phosphates-corp   

Connect with EPA Region 4 on Facebook: www.facebook.com/eparegion4  

And on Twitter: @EPASoutheast

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Superfund Task Force. In May 2017 Administrator Scott Pruitt established a task force to restore EPA's Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's core mission to protect health and the environment. Click here to learn more.