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Superfund Cleanup Begins at Cameron Parish Site

Release Date: 11/4/1998
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began cleaning an abandoned crude and waste oil refinery in a rural area of Cameron Parish today.

      The cleanup is funded by the federal Superfund program, the country's program for cleaning uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.

      "Cleanup of this site is expected to take about three months and to cost about $1.2 million. Because of the resources required, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality asked EPA to take the lead for the cleanup. For many citizens, EPA's Superfund program is their only protection from the health hazards of toxic waste," Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke said.

      EPA's assessment team found more than 30 above ground storage tanks in various stages of decay on the 10-acre site. The tanks contain about one million gallons of waste. Analysis of samples found highly flammable and highly corrosive chemicals in more than a dozen tanks.

      Leaks have contaminated soil around several tanks. Because the site is surrounded on three sides by the Intercoastal Waterway, marshlands and swamp, contaminated rainwater runoff poses a threat to aquatic life and several endangered species of animals and birds.

      There is also a potential for explosions and fires because the tanks contain chemicals which react violently if mixed. Smoke from these fires could be toxic to people.

      Cleanup will include draining the tanks and transporting that waste and any contaminated soil to a certified hazardous waste disposal site. To save removal costs, the emptied tanks will be cleaned, then damaged so that they cannot be reused, and left in place.