PFOA Debate Continues At Pascagoula Council Meeting - - The News for South Mississippi

PFOA Debate Continues At Pascagoula Council Meeting

There was standing room only at Tuesday night's city council meeting in Pascagoula. At issue up for discussion was whether to allow First Chemical to dump a chemical called PFOA into the city's sewer lines.

Concerned citizens and local environmental activists spoke out against the project.

"The public should no longer be the guinea pigs," Sierra Club member Brenda Songy said.

"This is a very dangerous chemical. It never goes away, it stays in the system forever.  And the process First Chemical is looking at actually dumps it into the Pascagoula River untreated, because it can't be broken down," Pascagoula resident Eric Richards said.   

As the project currently stands, PFOA will be run through part of the city's sewer system. While the water does go through a variety of processes, studies show that PFOA is bioresistant. That means it could be around for a very long time.   

"Dupont says it will never go away. It will be here forever," Richards said.       

First Chemical says this process is designed to drastically reduce the amount of PFOA it currently uses and has been approved by all the necessary agencies. It would also create a handful of jobs for the area. But that still doesn't sit well with some residents.   

"No amount of jobs are worth premature babies, children with learning disabilities, or mothers and fathers with cancer," Songy said.         

Mayor Matthew Avara said the city council will seek advice from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, and then hold a public hearing to let all sides state their case.   

"We feel we need someone else to give us an interpretation of what's been presented on both sides," Avara said.     

Outside of the meeting, James Freeman of First Chemical told WLOX News that the amount of PFOA discharged into Pascagoula water will be less than the size of a penny per day.

Both sides will have to wait, because the project has been halted until at least a public hearing can be held. No date has been set for that meeting, but at that time, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, First Chemical - Dupont, and the Sierra Club will all be given an opportunity to speak.

By Keli Rabon

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