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Cleanup underway at former Hercules plant site

HATTIESBURG — Cleanup of the impoundment basin at the Hercules plant in Hattiesburg began a few days after Hercules and parent company Ashland Inc. answered a lawsuit filed against both alleging pollution in nearby neighborhoods.

The Hattiesburg American reports sludge cleanup began Thursday, following the answers to the lawsuit on Dec. 3.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality says the basin, part of the facility’s wastewater-processing system, contains about 4,700 cubic yards of sludge.

MDEQ is requiring sludge removal because the sludge in the basin contains toxic chemicals such as benzene and hydrogen sulfide.

Hercules’ and Ashland’s answer to the U.S. District Court lawsuit denies many of the plaintiffs’ claims but acknowledges many of the test results confirming contamination in soil, air and water near the plant.

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