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EPA Orders Mississippi Phosphates Corporation of Pascagoula, MS to Correct Problems at their Facility

Release Date: 02/16/2012
Contact Information: Dawn Harris-Young, (404) 562-8421, harris-young.dawn@epa.gov

ATLANTA – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an Administrative Order on Consent to Mississippi Phosphates Corporation (MPC) in Pascagoula, MS that requires expedited corrective measures be taken at the facility to ensure the protection of public health and the environment. EPA issued the order under Section 7003 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which provides statutory authority to address an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health at facilities.

EPA believes that an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment exists at the facility due to corrosive water discovered by the facility outside the West Stack perimeter dike in January 2011 and September 2011. This order further directs MPC to continue to perform corrective actions that were included in a previous September 2009 Unilateral Order. The 2009 order was issued to MPC due to the EPA’s discovery of uncontrolled leaks and spills of sulfuric acid and untreated discharges from sulfuric acid plants to the adjacent bayou; and uncontrolled spills and leaks of phosphoric acid to unlined ditches at the MPC facility in August 2009.

MPC began operation in the late 1950s and was a subsidiary of Mississippi Chemical Corporation (MCC) from the early 1990’s through 2004. On May 15, 2003, MCC filed for bankruptcy and MPC was acquired by creditors. On December 21, 2004, MPC emerged from bankruptcy and is now owned by Phosphate Holdings, Inc, a publicly traded corporation. MPC manufactures sulfuric acid and phosphoric acid at the site and produces diammonium phosphate (DAP), a phosphate-based fertilizer.

Some of the work required of MPC in the 7003 Order includes: the submission of a revised plan to repair and replace degraded containment around sulfuric acid plants (SAPs); the continued implementation of the groundwater investigative and remediation work plan for the SAPs, DAP plant and construction area southwest of SAPs; daily visual assessment of seepage from west stack perimeter dike; and the submission of a west gypsum stack system improvement plan. As MPC addresses the requirements of this order, the EPA and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality will continue to work jointly to oversee MPC's compliance with environmental laws, regulations and permits.