Picayune Residents Get Update On Site Contamination

Dorothy Breland has lived in the shadows of the former wood treating site for more than 15 years. During that time she has heard of residents taking ill.

She's been trying to focus on the future, but says she can't without any concrete answers.

"It makes me feel very uncomfortable to continue to live here and to see that basically we're going through the same thing and having meetings during various times, and from the first time we met it seems as if we haven't accomplished that much," said Breland.

Concerns from residents within this neighborhood have been raised since 1999. That's when the Picayune Wood Treating plant was shut down and chemicals simply left abandoned.

It was later found those chemicals contained cancer causing agents which did not surprise residents. But after years of meetings with government officials, they simply want to know when will all of the contamination be cleaned up.

"We're in the remedial investigation phase, and so it is a long process because we're trying to find out where all the contamination is located, and so to do that properly it takes a little bit of time and so we have to gather samples- samples of the soil, samples of the water, sediments," said Environmental Protection Agency project manager Humberto Guzman.

This was the update the EPA and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has released.

They say they still have a few more samples to collect, but Guzman estimates the cleanup probably will not be complete until 2010. They maintain they are ahead of schedule, but according to Breland, seeing is believing.

"We would like to see and to have more action done, and to see it, other than on paper," said Breland.

Two years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency added the Picayune site to its Superfund program, where the government is responsible for cleaning up the toxic waste contamination.