The state of Mississippi struggles with intermittent leaks from underground storage tanks, which contributes to a growing petroleum contamination throughout the state. Recently, the United States Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $1,094,000 EPA grant to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality – or MDEQ – to provide financial assistance for the state’s beleaguered decontamination effort.
The EPA grant is funded through the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) trust fund. This fund is designated for state assistance in addressing contamination issues like the one that the state of Mississippi is facing. The funds are flexible within certain parameters; the state of Mississippi can use the funds to reinforce the cleanup staff that is currently in place and working to eliminate the contamination or they can contract a decontamination service to take over or supplement their efforts. If the state so chooses, they can also apportion their funds so that both options are exercised. If the state is able to recover the sum of expenditures, including any investment from owners or operators, the net result can be applied toward additional LUST cleanup operations.
EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, said, “Grants made under the LUST Trust Fund to our partners, like MDEQ, give states the flexibility to cleanup petroleum contamination from leaking underground storage tanks. EPA is providing funds directly to Mississippi so that the state may determine how best to address its unique and critical environmental challenges.”
Mississippi’s goal is to use the incoming EPA grant to complete eighty clean-ups and to reduce confirmed released by USTs by five percent from last year’s reports. Last year, Mississippi reported:
- 113 new confirmed discharges
- 100 cleanups completed
- 419 to be addressed
Inter-state efforts such as these represent an effort to tamp down contamination on a large scale. One resource that safety leaders and contamination specialists can utilize to further understand which options for clean-up processes are available to them, is an OSHA-approved, online HAZWOPER training course.