City to remove old Barrett Refining tanks

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 30, 2004

[7/30/04]Tanks from the former Barrett Refining property will be removed by the City of Vicksburg within a month, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen decided Thursday.

Meeting in special session, Mayor Laurence Leyens and Alderman Sid Beauman voted to authorize the city’s Inspection Department to spend $10,000 getting rid of the tanks Leyens termed an “eyesore” at 2222 Warrenton Road.

The city hopes to take bids next week and be done with the work in a month, Inspection Department head Victor Lewis said.

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Lewis estimated the site had 17 tanks capable of holding several hundred thousand gallons. He said he will get a definitive number after meeting with engineers. All of the tanks may have hazardous materials.

Two of the tanks broke free during flooding following an 8-inch rain in April 2003.

State law says the city can spend only $10,000 per calendar year on a cleanup project. Even after the tanks are removed, portions of the refinery will remain. Leyens said the city would tackle the rest of the site as soon as they were legally able. “The worst-case scenario is everything will be gone in two years,” he said.

The special session was held because there was some confusion regarding the city’s liability if environmental toxins are found. Leyens said the city will not be responsible.

Barrett Refinery declared bankruptcy in February 1996. It never emerged from the process, and the case was closed in April 2003.

Howell Refining Inc. of Chicago bought the property in 2001 and paid no taxes. The company owes more than $23,000 in back taxes.

The property was sold in a November tax sale to a Mississippi-based property company that has done nothing with the property, Leyens said.

“They didn’t know what they bought,” he said.

A $10,000 lien will be placed on the property, so a new property owner would have to pay the lien, in addition to back taxes, to take possession of the property. If no one buys the property, it will go to the state. In that case, the city will not be reimbursed.