Mississippi Phosphate, EPA reach agreement on violations

PASCAGOULA and MADISON — Mississippi Phosphate Corp. and the Environmental Protection Agency have agreed on how to fix environmental violations remaining after a 2009 inspection, and some found last year.

Many actions were taken in 2009 to tackle problems found by the federal agency, but it took more than two years to agree on all the terms and permanent solutions, Richard Johnson, Mississippi Phosphate’s vice president of operations told The Mississippi Press.

About 240 people work at the plant owned by Phosphate Holdings Inc. of Madison.

It makes sulfuric acid and phosphoric acid for fertilizer.

In 2009, the EPA said that the plant posed a danger to health and the environment because of violations including inadequate safety equipment, improper storage, leaks of sulfuric acid, and leaks of phosphoric acid to unlined ditches.

Company leaders said then that fixing the problems would cost about $2.5 million.

The EPA’s final order, outlining progress and required future actions, said many of the original problems have been corrected but inspections last year found “imminent and substantial” danger from corrosive water outside a perimeter dike.

Johnson said the dike is stable, but the water was seeping from a stack closed in 2005. He said the company immediately neutralized the liquid and made a berm of agricultural lime to keep the bayou safe during heavy rains.

Johnson said he plans to permanently fix the problem by installing remediation wells.

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