EPA Proposes Picayune, 10 Other New Sites For The Superfund

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday proposed adding another 11 sites, including one in Mississippi, to its Superfund program for cleaning up the nation's worst toxic waste contamination.

The sites range from lead mine wastes threatening downstream fisheries to an unknown source of drinking well contamination for thousands of people. They are located in nine states - Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and West Virginia - and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

The Mississippi site is in Picayune in Pearl River County, where the EPA has been taking groundwater and soil samples at the Wood Treating Inc. site to determine how much contamination remains on the property.

The company, which made creosote for poles, went out of business in 1999. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has been concerned with the site in central Picayune since contamination was discovered in tanks on the property.

Federal and state agencies performed a removal action at the property in 1999. EPA officials said they will clean up the properly over about 10 years at a cost estimated at between $5 million and $20 million.

Since the Superfund program began in 1980, the EPA has completed cleanups at almost 900 sites but has 1,240 on its uncompleted list.

Adding the 11 new sites and others that have been proposed, would bring the total to more than 1,300, said Thomas Dunne, the office's associate assistant administrator.

Other new sites listed by EPA are: Jacobsville Neighborhood Soil Contamination in Evansville, Ind.; Devil's Swamp in Scotlandville, La.; Annapolis Lead Mine in Annapolis, Mo.; Grants Chlorinated Solvents Plume in Grants, N.M.; Diaz Chemical Corp. in Holley, N.Y.; Peninsula Boulevard Groundwater Plume in Hewlett, N.Y.; Ryeland Road Arsenic in Heidelberg Township, Pa.; Cidra Ground Water Contamination in Cidra, Puerto Rico; Pike Hill Copper Mine in Corinth, Vt.; and Ravenswood PCE Ground Water Plume in Ravenswood, W.Va.

EPA officials said the problems found at these sites exemplify a recent trend in the program handling bigger, costlier and more complex cleanups.

"They are the worst of the worst, the real turkeys that the states don't want to touch,'' said Randolph Dietz, an attorney adviser for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, which oversees the Superfund program.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)