EPA holds first public meeting on old MS Phosphates plant

EPA holds first public meeting on old MS Phosphates plant
(Photo Source: WLOX NEWS)

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Pascagoula residents filled the city's senior center to voice their concerns over the old Mississippi Phosphate plant.

"This is a present health hazard to the people of Cherokee and the people of Pascagoula and what's going on to protect their health?" said STEPS Coalition member Howard Page.

One by one they outlined the health impacts they believe were caused by byproducts of the plant.

It was the first public meeting hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency explaining the process of getting the site on the Superfund National Priorities List to ultimately fund its clean up.

"Once we become eligible and get on the national priorities list, we become eligible for federal resources or actually remediation dollars," said EPA Superfund Project Manager Craig Zeller.

The more than 1,000-acre site is an environmental hazard, oozing moderately radio active material and filled with mountains of acidic byproduct from the old fertilizer plant.

"We heard those concerns tonight and we're gonna work real hard to address those concerns," Zeller said.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been placing a band-aid on the larger problem, by treating millions of gallons of waste water to prevent further pollution instead of filling landfills. Residents and the EPA agree it's time for a permanent solution. The hang up is that their tax dollars will likely have to pay for it.

"When a corporation makes billions then turns around and files bankruptcy, it don't make a whole lot of sense to me. I don't think the tax payers outta foot that bill," said Pascagoula resident Robert Reeves.

But at this point, it's looking like that may be the only option. Both parties say the main concern is the impact and they're optimistic that they may soon see some relief from the toxic eyesore.

The public comments period ends October 2nd. After that, the EPA will decide whether to add the site to Superfund list.

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