Barrett Refining coming down

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Barrett Refining Corp. on Warrenton Road. (MEREDITH SPENCER The Vicksburg Post)

[1/12/05] Vicksburg will pay one dollar to have refinery equipment and tanks removed from a Warrenton Road site.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen signed the deal, which includes a small office building, at the defunct Barrett Refining Corp., 2222 Warrenton Road.

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Victor Gray-Lewis, the city’s building inspection administrator, said work will begin within 10 days and be finished in about six months.

“It’s an eyesore and it’s been a big contributing factor to the mosquitoes over there,” Gray-Lewis said. “Ultimately our goal is just to clean up that area.”

Gray-Lewis said the work will be done by local contractor Turner Ross who will make his money by selling the scrap steel from the project. The project will include the removal of 11 tanks and demolition of three buildings at the site.

One of the tanks contains a sludge that will have to be removed and one building has asbestos, Gray-Lewis said. Removal of those will depend in part on approval from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

The property was abandoned after the plant closed in the early 1990s due to state and federal pollution charges and lawsuits filed by former employees. The previous owners declared bankruptcy and the property was sold to a Chicago company in 2001.

The property was sold in a November tax sale to a Mississippi-based property company and since then nothing has been done to clean up or maintain the site. In April 2003, two of the 500,000-gallon tanks broke free during a flood.

Gray-Lewis said that along with removing the tanks, the contractor will plug a hole in the Mississippi River levee along that property that has allowed water to flood the area.

City officials targeted the Barrett Refinery property for action shortly after clearing the former Ludke Electric building on Howard Street near St. Aloysius High School last year. Using the downtown urban renewal project, the city was also able to tear down the former Walnut Towers building in 2002 leaving the original three-story parking garage that is being refurbished for public use.

Work also began Monday on the former Battlefield Village mall on the Interstate 20 North Frontage Road. That property was bought late last year by Blackburn Motor Company and is being removed to make room for the car dealership to move from its location on Washington Street.