Tour of Superfund site could mean more funds

Published 4:58 pm Monday, November 16, 2009

Environmental Protection Agency and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality officials will tour Picayune’s Superfund site on Saturday.

The tour will be part of a process to determine when the former site of Picayune Wood Treating will receive additional funds to complete the cleanup process. So far, phase one of the process to remove contaminants from the site is complete but more phases are needed to finish the effort.

Picayune City Manager Harvey Miller said the tour will include officials from EPA and MDEQ along with local and legislative officials.

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Part of the next phase of the clean up will include relocating a major gas line, but that is already scheduled to take place.

This visit will be part of the information gathering process to determine when the site will receive an additional $30 million in funds to proceed with the next phase of the project, which does not include the gas line relocation. The phase for consideration will include forming containment areas at the Superfund site to store the contaminated soil and begin treating contaminated ground water, EPA Southeast Region Spokesperson Laura Niles said.

The soil on site was contaminated with creosote during the years that Picayune Wood Treating and other wood treating companies were in business.

Niles said there are two sites competing for the funds. If for some reason the Picayune site is not approved for this round of funding, then it will be considered during the next round of funding.

The visit will include a public forum where officials will gather public input on how the agencies can cleanup Superfund sites better by collecting feedback, Niles said. Residents of the city, especially those in the surrounding area to the Superfund site, located off of Rosa Street, are invited to attend and share concerns and ideas.

The forum will be held at 3 p.m. at South Side Lower Elementary at the corner of Beech and Rosa Streets.

Miller said the work, when it resumes, will be a spur to the local economy as workers taking part in the cleanup will purchase food, lodging and materials locally.

Correction — The coming visit by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality will not determine if Picayune’s Superfund site will receive funding. Saturday’s visit will only be a chance for EPA’s administrator to tour the site and participate in a listening session. There are also more than two sites competing for the funds.