Clean-up work begins at former plant site

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Published: August 10,2010

Tags: cleanup, environment, manufacturing

WESSON — An environmental cleanup has begun at a former industrial site in Wesson.

The 10-acre site once housed the Potter Company, which manufactured electronic noise filters used on airplanes and in computers.

John Miksa, project manager for First Environment, a nationwide environmental cleanup agency, said the site would be graded and greened in about six months. Part of the work includes replanting pine trees, according to a report in the Daily Leader.

The Potter Company began operating in Wesson in 1953. It was one of the town’s largest employers at the time, providing around 400 jobs.

In 1986, Varian Associates Inc. acquired Potter through its purchase of Pulse Engineering Inc. At the time of the transaction, some employees voiced their concerns about how the plant disposed of waste materials. The company investigated, and those concerns were validated.

While locals suspected some cancer cases were tied to the contamination, officials found no connection.

According to a report by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, soil testing at the plant and surrounding properties in the spring of 1986 found evidence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), toxic organic compounds used in electronics manufacturing. PCB oils were used at Potter from 1959-1968.

As soon as the contamination was found, state officials ordered Potter to determine its extent and develop plans for cleanup, which the company did.

In 1987, the Mississippi Department of Health tested a pair of Wesson’s municipal water wells located about 1,000 feet from Potter and found significant trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination. The company had used TCEs from 1954-1975 to degrease and clean PCBs from its components.

Wesson shut down the old wells and drilled two new wells, connecting them to the water system in 1989.

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