Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mississippi eyes CSX creosote cleanup plan

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The state of Mississippi is holding a hearing to outline CSX Transportation's plans to cap deposits of creosote in the West Pascagoula River and Bayou Pierre near the site of a former creosote plant, the Biloxi Sun Herald reports. The company is proposing to do the environmental work and needs a state permit to proceed.


CSXT inherited the grounds of the former plant and the environmental issues in 1980 when it merged with L&N Railroad, a company spokesman said. It did some remedial work in 1985 by removing material from the site and it continues to monitor the area. The grounds have been cleared and fenced. The creosote used at the Graveline Road site - a black, oily skin irritant - was used to preserve wood, primarily for utility poles and railroad ties.

This coal-tar creosote is considered a possible carcinogen by the EPA, which requires spills or accidental releases of one pound or more be reported.  CSXT proposes to put down a multi-layered covering or cap on a section of the West Pascagoula River south of U.S. 90, 1,250 feet by 200 feet; and a section of Bayou Pierre, just off the river, 1,200 feet by 125 feet.
Plans are to dredge a 75-foot channel 35 feet wide so boaters can navigate around the Bayou Pierre cap and to build 125 feet of bulkhead to tie into the existing bulkhead on the grounds. A lot of the work proposed will be near the Graveline Road bridge over Bayou Pierre.

There have been several creosote plants at the site since the first one, established in 1874. The last plant shut down in the late 1970s.

One concern expressed by the Sierra Club was the proposal to dredge a new channel through the marsh. Jackson County recently completed dredging in Bayou Pierre, but Supervisor Mike Mangum said the 800 feet of Katrina silt the county removed was not near the proposed cap areas. Mangum said the county, aware of the creosote issue, coordinated its dredging efforts.
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