Since the early 1920’s south
The Macmillan Ring-Free Oil Refinery made oil products before closing in 1987. Then in 2004, Norphlet Chemical unsuccessfully set up shop to produce freon-134-A. By 2007, they went bankrupt.
As of today, the ninety-two acres remains abandoned.
So starting in 2011 the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality deemed the area 'hazardous', and recommended that it become one of 14 National Priority Superfund Sites in south Arkansas.
Katherine Benenati with the ADEQ spoke with us on the phone from
“Our biggest concern with any site that’s abandoned for a while and has this level of contamination is making sure that it’s cleaned up properly,” said Benenati. “Sites that score a certain amount and in this case it’s 28.5 or higher, they can be proposed to be on that national priority list.”
Meanwhile the Mayor of Norphlet is skeptical.
He says the EPA is looking to remove dried oil which has been in the soil since the 1920’s. He believes it’s not harming anything or anyone.
Mayor Jim Crotty told us the Environmental Protection Agency already spent $6 million dollars on clean up efforts in the early 1990’s.
“They were supposed to have the site cleaned up, and now there coming back,” Said Crotty. “And I’ll say this: I think they’re trying to beat a dead horse.”
He points out that across the gate is a school, public park and residential homes. The Mayor says nothing’s ever been affected by the so-called contamination.
“I’m real concerned on why they want to spend another $5, 6, 8, or 10 million to scrape the soil. It’s all over my town of
The Department of Environmental Quality disagrees.
“You can’t always see contamination,” adds Benenati. “There are petroleum bi-products there, so even with the work that’s gone on, there’s contamination there that still needs to be addressed.”
Abandoned, the Mayor still has high hopes for the property in the future and hopes to attract new business.
“We’ve got about a $2 million rail road spur, and warehouses and offices, and a 92-acre site that would make a great industrial park.”
For now, the EPA is giving community members until February 10Th,(60 days), to comment on the proposal. After that, a final decision will be made.