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Locations of Gas Plants and Other Coal-tar Sites in the U.S.

THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI 

Introduction

            Given its typically fine-grained geology and sub-tropical Pleistocene and Quaternary soils, Mississippi presents some unusual remedial considerations for remediation of former manufactured gas plants (FMGPs) and other coal-tar sites. The overall number of FMGPs is less than the dominant tar sites, those of wood-preservation. Earliest gas manufacturing may be 1840 (Natchez), or more certainly 1857 (Jackson) and wood resin (“rosin”) and fatwood dominated the industry (One 300 lb. barrel, @ $1.50, yielded 9,000 cf wood gas & several gal. tar) until the completion of post-war reconstruction, about 1876, when steamboat and rail supplies of coal had become affordable. Most gas works were constructed with absentee northern gas money, largely from Ohio River cities capable of supplying river transport for gasworks machinery, installed by local contractors, and $25-30,000 could put a plant in place. Plants remained relatively small until the national holding-company craze of the 1920s, when carbureted water gas became common in the State and plant costs rose to the range of $100-200,000.

            The greater number of Mississippi tar sites are those of the creosote wood-preservation facilities (from ca. 1878), charcoal kilns, and WWII-era wood-tar/cellulose acetate plants (Two tons of wood yielded 0.5 ton of charcoal and 10 gal. wood tar). Preservation facilities typically are plagued with unlined, spent-creosote pits.

            Given the plentiful supply of surface and groundwater, contact condensation was common and most sites are likely to contain considerable adjacent waterway PAH contamination of fluvial sediment, in addition to the toxics of the usual gasworks dump, on or adjacent to the plant. Late Neogene sedimentary units generally have widespread aquifer sequences, such as those of the Catahoula and the undifferentiated Pascagoula-Hattiesburg Formations, and site geomorphic features may leave their more hydraulically-conductive members and beds open to PAH DNAPL infiltration and transport. Riverside FMGPs exhibit the usual gasworks contamination of adjacent bodies of surface water.

Note:   Dr. Hatheway will present this paper at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists, at New Orleans, 15-20 September.

Click the blue "EPA" link below to view the
Mississippi map of the EPA 1985 Radian FMGP Report.

Click the green "Hatheway" link below to view the
Mississippi map of Professor Hatheway's research.

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