PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - In just over a year of taking action on the site to manage emergency wastewater treatment operations, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and the agency signed a $107.6 million Action Memorandum to begin cleanup in July 2018.
Administrator Pruitt signed the memorandum to accelerate the cleanup of the former Mississippi Phosphates Corporation (MPC) Site in Pascagoula.
In January 2018, the EPA officially added the MPC Site to the Superfund National Priorities List and proposed a cleanup plan for portions of the MPC Site. The Action Memorandum signed today selects a $71.6 million cleanup that will take place from 2018 through 2020, plus $36 million for ongoing wastewater treatment during the three-year cleanup period.
"In just over a year, EPA has taken multiple important actions to accelerate the remediation of the Mississippi Phosphates Superfund Site," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "This memo reflects my commitment to addressing Superfund sites as quickly and safely as possible to ensure human health and economic activity in the surrounding areas are fully protected."
The cleanup plan identified in the Action Memorandum focuses on the closure of the East Gypsum Stack and the North Ponds at the West Gypsum Stack. It is expected to eliminate storage of more than 500 million gallons of contaminated water on site. It will also reduce the volume of water requiring treatment by an estimated 98 percent.
Design of the closure system is in progress.
The MPC Site is a former diammonium phosphate fertilizer plant that began operation in the 1950s. It ceased operations in December 2014 under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, leaving more than 700,000,000 gallons of acidic, nutrient-rich wastewater stored at the facility.
The wastewater—if improperly discharged—may be toxic to fish and other forms of marine life, and can also cause algal blooms. Previous releases of untreated wastewater from the Site (before EPA took over) resulted in fish kills.
EPA assumed control of wastewater treatment operations at the former MPC fertilizer facility once the MPC Environmental Trust, which owns the property, ran out of funds in February 2017.