EPA starts cleanup of former Davis Timber site

LAMAR COUNTY — The Environmental Protection Agency has started the cleanup of the Davis Timber Superfund site in Lamar County and the length of the project and cost could turn out to be less than expected.

The Hattiesburg American reports EPA official Scott Martin from Atlanta has told supervisors that a November survey of the site revealed a much lower-than-expected volume of contaminated water.

“It’s going way faster than we thought and that should cut funds from the project,” Martin said.

In 2009, the project’s cost was estimated between $5 million to $6 million, with actual construction running into 2013 or 2014.

Updated estimates had dropped the cost to about $4.5 million with a 12-month to 14-month timeline.

From 1972 to 1987, Davis Timber Co. produced treated pine poles, pilings and timber at the 30-acre site about six miles northwest of Hattiesburg.

Between 1974 and 1987, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality documented six fish kills in nearby Country Club Lake that were traced to pentachlorophenol that had leached from the site.

Later, high levels of dioxin compounds also were found in fish, and the site was added to the Superfund list in 2000.

Funding issues kept the cleanup on the back burner for the next eight years.

The cleanup includes straining polluted water from a previous containment area on the property to remove contaminants and rerouting a 500-foot to 1,000-foot section of West Mineral Creek about 200 feet west of the containment area.

After building a berm and shoring up the creek bank, contaminated soil and material dredged from the creek would be transferred to an “impoundment” area, which would be capped.

“They’ve demolished the old buildings that were onsite, doing a lot of grading for erosion control, tearing up concrete that was onsite. They’ve installed the water-treatment system and they’ve started pulling water from there.

“Then, the next steps will start in January. We’ll relocate part of the creek, and then start building the berm on the impoundment wall in January and February. That’s when we’ll start doing the excavation of the onsite soils that are contaminated,” Martin said.

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