The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added the Mississippi Phosphates Corporation (MPC) site in Pascagoula, Miss., along with three other sites across the country to the Superfund Program’s National Priorities List (NPL). An additional 10 hazardous waste sites were proposed for listing on the NPL.
Superfund, which Congress established in 1980, investigates and cleans up hazardous waste sites and converts them into community resources. EPA adds sites to the NPL when contamination threatens human health and the environment. Only sites added to the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term cleanup.
“Today’s action ensures the necessary resources are available for effective and safe revitalization of some of the most contaminated sites across the country,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Superfund clean-up continues to be a priority at EPA as we work intently to create a safer and healthier environment for all communities affected.”
EPA adds sites to the NPL when contamination threatens human health and the environment. EPA deletes sites from the NPL once all response actions are complete and all cleanup goals have been achieved. EPA typically initiates Superfund involvement because states, tribes or citizens ask for the Agency’s help. The Agency may also find contamination during its own investigations.
Mississippi Phosphates Corporation is a former diammonium phosphate fertilizer plant that began operation in the 1950s. The facility ceased operations in December 2014 under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, leaving more than 700,000,000 gallons of low-pH, contaminated wastewater stored at the facility. On Feb. 11, 2017, EPA assumed temporary control of wastewater treatment operations at the former MPC fertilizer facility once the MPC Environmental Trust, which owns the property, ran out of funds. EPA is overseeing wastewater treatment at a rate of approximately 2,000,000 gallons per day—at a cost of approximately $1,000,000 per month—due to the high volume of wastewater generated that requires treatment.
EPA proposed listing the MPC site on the Superfund National Priorities List on Aug. 3, 2017. On Dec. 8, 2017, EPA announced that the MPC site is among those that Administrator Pruitt has targeted for immediate and intense attention. The 21 sites on the list – from across the United States – are in direct response to the Superfund Task Force Recommendations, issued this summer, calling for this list.
Superfund addresses a variety of sites. While many Superfund sites were contaminated decades ago, at least six of the sites EPA is adding or proposing today – including the MPC site – were in operation within the last 15 years. These sites have contamination from a variety of sources, including manufacturing, electroplating and metal finishing.
When EPA cleans up a site or a portion of a site, the site is available for beneficial uses. More than 850 Superfund sites nationwide have some type of actual or planned reuse underway.
Community partnerships are critical to Superfund site cleanups. EPA's goal is to work with community partners at every site by establishing a process to explore future uses before the cleanup remedy’s selection. This gives EPA the best chance of ensuring remedies are consistent with a site’s likely future use.
The Superfund law directs EPA to update the NPL at least annually.
For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for the final and proposed sites: www.epa.gov/superfund/current-npl-updates-new-proposed-npl-sites-and-new-npl-sites
For information about Superfund and the NPL: www.epa.gov/superfund
For information about the proposed MPC site: www.epa.gov/superfund/ms-phosphates-corp
Connect with EPA Region 4 on Facebook: www.facebook.com/eparegion4
SOURCE: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)