Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mississippi's Chemfax Site Set for Next Round of Cleanup

By: Duane Craig

Through the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. taxpayers helped Gulfport, Miss., complete an emergency cleanup of the Chemfax industrial site at Three Rivers and Creosote roads. The bill was about $1.5 million, according to this report at SunHerald.com.

Now, the cleanup needs to be taken to the next level to prevent contamination from reaching Bernard Bayou, and Mississippi will have to carry the financial ball from here to completion. The state says it is waiting for a final cleanup plan before determining the funding.

The work is estimated to include removing 18,000 cubic feet of soil contaminated with base neutral acids, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, and volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. That requires digging down from 4 to 10 feet at a cost of about $2.5 million. After the contaminants are removed, the groundwater will have to be monitored for 100 years.

Benzene in air 180 times EPA health-based benchmark

Chemfax made petroleum hydrocarbon resins using a paraffin wax blending process. Water used in the process was stored in a pond, and the pond had an overflow drain going to a drainage ditch. Air sampling in 1990 turned up high levels of "benzene, toluene, xylenes, ethyl benzene, and styrene. The concentrations of benzene detected in the air were over 180 times EPA's health-based benchmarks. Other contaminants were also found in air samples significantly above upwind sample concentrations," according to EPA documents.

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