April 16, 2018
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an updated Administrator’s Emphasis List of Superfund sites targeted for immediate and intense attention. The former Mississippi Phosphates Corporation (MPC) Site in Pascagoula, Miss., remains on the list. Much progress has been made at the MPC Site since it was added to the Administrator’s original Emphasis List. EPA formally added the MPC Site to the Superfund National Priorities List and proposed a $71 million cleanup plan for portions of the MPC Site in January 2018.
“We are making tremendous progress expediting sites through the entire Superfund remediation process,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “The updated Emphasis List reflects our commitment to addressing Superfund sites as quickly and safely as possible.”
In elevating EPA’s focus on the Superfund program, Administrator Pruitt has been at the helm of efforts to streamline and improve the program, and accelerate the cleanup and reuse of America’s most contaminated sites. Administrator Pruitt has visited both the Anaconda Copper Mine and San Jacinto River Waste Pits as part of his effort to ensure timely decisions for cleanup of the sites to protect the health and environment of surrounding communities.
The updated Administrator’s Emphasis List, like the initial emphasis list, identifies Superfund sites that will benefit from Administrator Pruitt’s direct engagement. The emphasis list is intended to be dynamic. Sites will move on and off the list as appropriate. At times, there may be more or fewer sites based on where the Administrator’s attention and focus is most needed.
The MPC Site 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 acidic, nutrient-rich wastewater stored at the facility. This wastewater—if improperly discharged—may be toxic to fish and other forms of marine life, and can also cause algal blooms.
On Feb. 11, 2017, 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. EPA is overseeing wastewater treatment at a rate of approximately 2-4 million gallons per day—at a cost of approximately $1 million per month—due to the high volume of wastewater generated that requires treatment. The initial cleanup is expected to cost $71 million and will be implemented over three years (2018 to 2020). EPA is currently evaluating the public comments received on the plan and expects to soon sign an action memorandum to move the cleanup forward.
The initial list – consisting of 21 sites across the country – was released on December 8, 2017 in direct response to the Superfund Task Force Recommendations. It is anticipated that this list will be revised quarterly.
EPA remains dedicated to addressing risks at all Superfund sites, not just those on the emphasis list. The Task Force Recommendations are aimed at expediting cleanup at all Superfund sites and Administrator Pruitt has set the expectation that there will be a renewed focus on accelerating work and progress at Superfund sites across the country.
The Task Force, whose work is ongoing, has five overarching goals:
- Expediting cleanup and remediation;
- Reinvigorating cleanup and reuse efforts by potentially responsible parties;
- Encouraging private investment to facilitate cleanup and reuse;
- Promoting redevelopment and community revitalization; and
- Engaging with partners and stakeholders.
The Task Force will provide the public with regular updates as it makes progress on the Administrator’s Emphasis list and other Task Force activities