HORN ISLAND, MS (WLOX) - Gulf Islands National Seashore Superintendent Dan Brown announced Thursday that the National Park Service is continuing its efforts to remove hazardous materials from Horn Island.
In 2012, clean-up crews discovered hazardous materials over a 30 acre part of the 2,700 acre island. Asbestos and mustard gas had been detected on a small area of the island known as "the chimney." That area was the site of an old military chemical testing facility that was active in the early to mid 1940s.
Further testing has since revealed the positive test for mustard gas was inaccurate, and that mustard gas is actually not present on the island. However, asbestos remains a health hazard.
"We have begun work with a contract company to remove the visible pieces of asbestos containing material in the area known as "The Chimney Site," on the northwestern shore of the island. The site includes the remains of a military chemical weapons testing facility that was active in the 1940s," Brown said.
After the visible asbestos material is removed, the team will test the air and sand to determine how much asbestos remains on the site and prepare recommendations on how to proceed to insure public safety. The area will remain closed until work is completed.
"Our highest priority remains the safety of the public and our employees," Brown said. He also apologized for any inconvenience to visitors of the island.
Because of the materials involved, the NPS must follow the process outlined in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, commonly known as the Superfund.