Council asked to consider adopting part of Superfund site
Published 10:41 am Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Picayune has a Superfund site off of Rosa Street, and the Environmental Protection Agency would like the city of Picayune to accept a portion of it.
Operations of wood treatment facilities at the site over many years left creosote pollution throughout the area, but the EPA has recently tied up one part of the work to rectify the problem. Contaminated dirt has either been removed or capped over. Now the final phase will entail years of work to treat the groundwater underneath the site.
But the EPA would like the city to consider taking ownership of a 13-acre plot adjacent to J.P. Johnson Park.
EPA Attorney Stacey Haire spoke to the council during their meeting Tuesday to ask the council to consider accepting the land. In exchange the city would be protected from any public or private lawsuits under an agreement with the federal government. Additionally, the state would provide maintenance to the area, which would include regular mowing of the area and monitoring to ensure the caps are not compromised, Haire said. The grassy area has to be mowed regularly to prevent trees from growing on the land and thereby puncturing the cap.
Most of the plot the EPA is asking the city to consider does not have a cap, only a small portion of the cap is included in the land. However, large concrete slabs remain on the property, which cannot be removed without further soil remediation, Haire said.
The section of land in question, identified as “Gammill property” on the maps shown to council members, was actually the site of the old sawmill back when wood treatment was conducted on the site.
The area where wood was being treated, and subsequently led to the contamination, was not part of Tuesday’s proposal.
That adjacent site is owned by the state due to a failure to pay taxes, Haire said.
During the presentation council members asked if they could be forced to assume ownership of the entire Superfund site, which was a question Haire said she could not answer accurately because she does not represent the state.
However, she did say that even if the state did not own the site, that state will still be under contract with the EPA to maintain it.
After the presentation, Haire informed the council that they have until the court ordered deadline of April 21 to decide if they want to accept the 13 acres.
The council took no action on the matter.
Council members were also introduced to law firm Butler Snow’s new economic development director, Gray Swoope.
Swoope said he hopes to be able to help the city as they work towards increasing economic development through three ways, looking at market opportunities, facilitating growth and winning competitive projects.
See Thursday’s edition for continued coverage of Tuesday’s meeting.