City doesn’t need to own restricted property

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 10, 2015

Tuesday, members of Picayune’s City Council were divided on whether they should have taken ownership of property adjacent to the local Superfund site.
The Superfund site has been a focus of coverage for several years, but in mid March representatives with the Environmental Protection Agency gave a presentation to the council asking them to adopt a section of property adjacent to the Superfund site.
For those who have not heard of the Superfund site, it’s located off of Rosa Street and was previously a site where for decades businesses used creosote to treat lumber. After years of wood treating, the creosote was absorbed into the ground, contaminating the soil and the groundwater.
Remediation efforts of the site began years ago. EPA contractors have almost completed the work to either remove or contain the contamination. A final step will remove the chemicals from the groundwater soon.
During the presentation in mid March, EPA representatives asked the city to assume ownership of a section of land next to the Superfund site described as the “Gammill property”, a section of land adjacent to J.P. Johnson Park.
Use of the land is restricted; no one can build on it. Additionally, the property already has concrete slabs where the sawmill used to operate that can’t be removed.
Assuming ownership of land near a Superfund site that can’t be developed doesn’t sound like a smart move.
EPA representatives said that if the city assumed ownership of the property the state would handle the maintenance and the federal government would protect the city from any lawsuits. Even with those things in mind, why would the city need to take ownership of land they can’t use other than for a park?
Ultimately, the city made the right move by not adopting the property.

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