HATTIESBURG — The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a Kentucky company to conduct on- and off-site testing as soon as possible after several harmful contaminants were uncovered at the now closed Hercules facility.
Ashland Inc. of Covington, Ky., purchased Hercules in 2008.
Local residents have complained about ongoing pollution from the plant that was creating health problems.
The Hattiesburg American reports testing by the EPA found large amounts of benzene and several other hazardous materials in groundwater, soil samples and sediment tested by the agency earlier this year.
According to the EPA, benzene is a volatile organic compound. Acute exposure can cause dizziness, headaches and a string of other complications, and chronic exposure can cause leukemia.
Residents in the area say besides procuring samples at the Hercules site, experts also will be testing adjoining properties within a half-mile radius of the plant.
The EPA order directs Ashland to submit a work plan that includes sampling and analysis of drinking water within a four-mile radius of the facility, and surface and sediment data of any wetlands, creeks, lakes or ditches within a half-mile of the plant.
The report also must include soil gas samplings and indoor air reports.