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Valente and Gouguet hopeful city will wait for Phase II assessment on Valspar property

Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council of Picayune is one of special interest because the council will take up an agenda item on whether the City of Picayune should take a donation of a parcel of land, last used by Valspar, that appears to have the presence of hazardous materials.

In a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Report created by Gulf South Associates’ Kevin McMahon, the property, located at 210 Crosby Street, “is comprised of six parcels totaling approximately 28 acres located on the south side of Palestine Road, Crosby Street, and Wisteria Lane, and the north side of Davis Street in a mixed-use commercial, industrial, and residential area within the Picayune city limits. According to the Pearl River County Tax Assessor, ownership in the subject parcels is currently vested in Sunbelt Coatings, Inc. in care of the Sherwin Williams Tax Department.”

Two council members, Wayne Gouguet and Tammy Valente, have both spoken up about their concerns if the city should take the property. Their concerns are validated in the report which casts doubt the property is free from contaminants.

The report states. “The identification of recognized environmental conditions in connection with the subject property may impose an environmental liability on owners or operators of the site, reduce the value of the site, or restrict the use or marketability of the site, and therefore, further investigation may be warranted to evaluate the scope and extent of potential environmental liabilities.”

Both Valente and Gouguet do not want the city to acquire the property and later learn the property will require cleanup activities due to the presence of hazardous materials that could cost the city a lot of money. Both are hopeful other city leaders will not vote to accept the ‘free’ property and instead wait for a Phase II inspection to be performed and report generated to ensure the city will not have any liability of contaminants should it accept the property.

Councilman Gouguet has many concerns about the city taking this property.

“Brown field sites are a complicated issue. EPA/MSDEQ want the city to take the property, but probably are not representing our best interests, but their own interest. My contact in DEQ told me the contamination from the Valspar activity was outside the superfund SOW and was not evaluated. I believe the Phase I report bears that out. I still have concerns if we do not have a good handle on the extent of and severity of the contamination on the property, how do we risk exposing city workers?”

The Superfund cleanup at the old Picayune Wood Treating Superfund site does not include the Valspar property according to information on the state’s MDEQ site.

Valente stated, “We need more information and a Phase II assessment is a good start toward that diligence. There are a lot of details we need to make sure we have all of the data to support our decision. This decision has to be for the well-being for the city of Picayune, its residents, and our city employees.”


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