OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - An environmental cleanup in Ocean Springs is linked to a decades-old pollution problem with a former dry cleaning business.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is monitoring the remediation project at Spring Plaza Shopping Center. That's the retail area next door to the post office on Hwy. 90, which includes the Winn-Dixie grocery and other small retail shops.
A deep drilling machine called a Geo-Probe was moved into position in the east parking lot of Spring Plaza on Monday morning.
Owners of the shopping center are paying a Tennessee environmental consultant and a Colorado contractor for the remediation work.
The process is straightforward: 15 to 20-foot deep holes are drilled. Then, an organic compound is injected into those holes.
That compound is designed to neutralize the harmful impact of residual PCE, or perchloroethylene, a chemical which was used by Village Cleaners dry cleaning 20 plus years ago. MDEQ said PCE leached into the soil through floor drains and other means, posing a threat to the shallow groundwater in the area.
It's important to note that Village Cleaners no longer does dry cleaning at that shopping center location. It is merely a pickup and drop off point. The cleaning is done elsewhere.
Also, the current owner of the business is not the same owner as when the problem first surfaced more than 20 years ago.
Past remediation efforts included the installation of monitoring wells near the dry cleaning property.
Those have been in place for years and have been checked over the years for residual levels of PCE.
MDEQ said one ongoing goal has been to keep the chemical confined to that site only and not let it spread to any adjoining properties.
Business owners in the plaza have been inconvenienced for the past week as the remediation continues, and part of the work site has been cordoned off for safety's sake.
This latest cleanup effort is expected to wrap up by midweek.
William McKercher, with MDEQ, said the owners of Spring Plaza have been doing some form of remediation on this site for the better part of a decade. He said they have been quite cooperative with the state agency.