JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is releasing more than 100 million gallons of partially treated wastewater from the former Mississippi Phosphates facility into Bayou Casotte.
The EPA reported the emergency bypass was needed to keep wastewater levels within a safe range after an estimated 12 inches of rain fell in Pascagoula on Sunday. The release operation is expected to take several days.
EPA spokeswoman Davina Marraccini said the wastewater will be discharged over the next few weeks, and there's no anticipated impact to the environment. Continuous surface water monitoring is being conducted to verify that there are no impacts, Marraccini said.
"Maintaining site safety is EPA's top priority in order to protect workers, nearby residents, and the surrounding environment. EPA is coordinating closely with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and local officials to determine appropriate next steps," Marraccini said in a statement Tuesday.
The EPA added the former fertilizer plant to its Superfund National Priorities List earlier this year. Superfund sites are defined as polluted locations that require long-term efforts to clean up hazardous materials.
Mississippi Phosphates operated as a fertilizer plant from the 1950s until 2014, when the business went bankrupt. When it closed down, the facility left behind 700 million gallons of contaminated wastewater plus gypsum stacks.
Every time it rains, more wastewater is created. The EPA says every inch of rain produces an additional nine million gallons of wastewater.
The EPA treats about two million gallons of wastewater per day at a cost of $1 million per month.