EPA uses Superfund money to clean bankrupt recyling business
Published 7:00 am Friday, February 3, 2017
A local recycling business was recently cleaned of all contamination by the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to information posted on the EPA’s website, The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality requested the cleanup by the EPA once it was discovered that some of the materials being stored at the now defunct business were leaking onto the ground, including liquid elemental mercury. The report posted on the website states the mercury contamination was possibly due to vandals breaking instruments containing the substance. Most of the other containers housed at the site held oil.
Two large tanks still at the site contained used motor oil. Previous coverage states the tanks could hold about 28,000 gallons. The website states that before the cleanup effort began, one of the tanks was about 20 percent filled, while the second had a level measuring 12 inches deep.
Inside the secondary containment area housing the tanks, was water that displayed an oily sheen.
Surrounding the facility are three residential areas, a creek and a stream that flows intermittently.
In written emailed responses to questions posed by the Item seeking an update about the cleanup efforts, EPA Press Officer Dawn Harris-Young said the cleanup effort began in May of last year and concluded in November. Initial cleanup efforts focused on containing and securing the used motor oil and other hazardous substances. The mercury was also transported off-site for disposal and recycling. In August of last year, a small room that was “impacted with low level radioactive sources,” was decontaminated. According to the statement, the radioactive sources were thorium nitrate and thorium oxide.
In areas where containers leaked, the surface soils were excavated and disposed. The statement notes that, “There is no indication that the soil and underlying groundwater was impacted by the presence of the materials. However, surface water was impacted by oil sheen that escaped the site from an overflowing secondary containment area. That area was emptied and washed as part of the response and removal action.”
In regard to the liquid elemental mercury waste, that material came from damaged sphygmomanometers and thermostats.
Harris-Young stated in her written response that the cost to clean the site was about $350,000, paid for by federal funds under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act “a.k.a. Superfund,” because the business was bankrupt. The EPA’s website states that the company went bankrupt in 2013.
The waste collected in the cleanup was either sent to multiple off-site facilities that could properly dispose of or recycle them, or in the instance of wastewaters, were sent to a treatment facility in Mobile, Ala. Solid materials were also sent for disposal, processing, treatment or recycling off-site.
The sheen noted in the secondary containment area around the large tanks was cleaned of sludge and tested in September for elevated levels of contamination. Harris-Young said in her written statement that the samples did not find “elevated concentration of contaminants.”
As for the tanks in that secondary containment area, they were emptied, cleaned and abandoned.
Prior to going bankrupt in 2013, JCC Environmental was a locally owned business that provided recycling and cleaning services to the community and regional businesses. Some of the materials accepted by the business while operational included used motor oil, fluorescent bulbs, chemicals used in the development of photographs, car batteries, old electronics and items containing mercury.