Hazardous Material Cleanup Planned At Stennis

In 1977, large containers and barrels filled with lumber, clothing and solvents from the Seabee Base in Gulfport were buried at Stennis. The material was decontaminated of Agent Orange, but still deemed a danger. Now, that danger is back.

"What we've found is that this material has moved off the site where it was originally buried and has contaminated the upper ground in this area," NASA Environmentalist Ron Magee said.

The contaminated materials were buried on a site in the northwest corner of Stennis.

"We don't want it to leave this site," Magee said. "We don't want it to get into the Rivers, get into any of the biological animals that live around here. We want to keep it here. That's why we're going through all this trouble to put these barrier walls in."

Officials are having special water-tight clay shipped into Wyoming. They say it will be used to create an underground barrier to keep contamination from ever living the site.

"Basically you're going to have a patch of soil. Nothing leaves from there and nothing will ever get into there," Magee said.

Crews have already started to excavate and create the barrier wall. Specially engineered caps will top off contaminated areas followed by a 30-year monitoring program. It's about a $5 million job.

Magee say removing the materials out of the area completely isn't practical.

"We would have had to spend another $40 million of taxpayers money to take this material to another location in this country and have it incinerated. That didn't seem practical to anyone involved."

Magee says the site posses no health threat to anyone. Officials say the first phase of the clean-up and containment project should be complete by December. The U.S. Air Force and NASA will foot the bill for the work.