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The 11-acre Chemfax, Inc. site is located in Gulfport, Harrison County, Mississippi. The site is bordered to the east by Three Rivers Road and by Creosote Road to the south. Located to the north is County Barn Road and Bernard Bayou, and to the west are a rail line and the abandoned Alpine Masonite facility. The site began operations in 1955, producing synthetic hydrocarbon resins and waxes from petroleum products. The primary operation at the time business ceased in 1995 was a paraffin blending process in which different grades of paraffin wax were heated together to a liquid state, blended, and then cooled with water. Cooling water was obtained from an on-site industrial well and stored in an on-site holding pond and reused. Site soils and groundwater beneath the site have been impacted by these operations.
The former operator of the site is deceased and the company is bankrupt. The site is located on "Sixteenth Section" land, which by State law is held in trust by the State to be used for the benefit of Mississippi's public education system. As the owner of the land, the State of Mississippi is the sole remaining responsible party.
The site was proposed to Superfund's National Priorities List (NPL) in 1993 and finalized on the NPL in March 2012.
What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the lead and the State of Mississippi, as represented by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), has been the support agency during the remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) process for the Chemfax, Inc. site. They have reviewed the documents that comprise the RI/FS and have concurred with the long-term remedy, selected in 2002, and with the amended remedy, updated in 2013.
- In December 1998, an EPA site visit revealed that the site was easily accessible, many drums were stored on site, and site buildings were being lived in by transients. These conditions were addressed by EPA through Superfund's removal authority, which addresses immediate and/or short-term threats to human health and the environment.
- Actions from July 1999 to December 1999 included improvement of site security to limit access to the site; removal and disposal off site of asbestos present on remaining equipment; removal of drums; disposal of contents remaining in on-site storage; disposal of 2,000 cubic yards of excavated soils; and dismantling of most of the processing lines, tank farms, bulk storage areas, buildings and structures.
- In 2013, EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) to compel the State of Mississippi to implement the amended remedy at the site. EPA also negotiated an agreement with the State of Mississippi that addressed the resolution of outstanding past costs for the site.
- In November 2013, site preparation work began as part of the cleanup actions called for by the 2013 amended remedy.
- Soil excavation activities began in April 2014.
- Due to the lack of available funding, site activities were discontinued from November 2014 until July 2015. Significantly higher volumes of contaminated soils above cleanup levels were found than that estimated in the 2013 AROD.
- On January 12, 2016, a joint site inspection was held with personnel from EPA and the State of Mississippi. The installation of groundwater wells was completed January 29, 2016. These groundwater wells will be used to monitor future levels of contaminants in the groundwater beneath the site. Excavation activities were completed in December 2016 with a total of 109,211 tons of soils disposed off-site. All construction activities have been completed at the site.
- In February 2017, a restrictive environmental covenant was placed on the site that will restrict groundwater use until contaminant levels in groundwater have been restored to safe levels.
- In July 2017, the site achieved EPA's Site-Wide Ready for Anticipated Use (SWRAU) target.
What Is the Current Site Status?
Until groundwater monitoring shows that contamination has attenuated to acceptable levels, EPA will conduct Five-Year Reviews to ensure the remedy remains protective of human health and environment. The first Five-Year Review for the site will be conducted in 2021.