Vicksburg Chemical bill OK’d by House|[2/2/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2005

A bill that could provide financial help for a development to clean up and use the former Vicksburg Chemical plant site in Vicksburg passed the state House of Representatives today.

“It breezed right through,” said Rep. George Flaggs, who had sponsored the House version of the bill.

The legislation could result in quicker cleanup of 40 contaminated acres, part of 540 acres off Rifle Range Road now under the control of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

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The bill would advance cleanup costs of several million dollars to be repaid through higher taxes on the tract, once the plant is put back in service, other development takes place or both.

A companion bill has been introduced into the Legislature’s other chamber by Sen. Mike Chaney, R-Vicksburg, and cleared the committee Tuesday.

Chaney has said the bill will be more difficult to pass in the Senate since at least some plans to redevelop the property have called for a new casino.

The chemical company shut down in 2002. A bankruptcy judge allowed the company to abandon ownership of the site to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Other chemical producers and the MDEQ have negotiated over a possible reopening of the site for chemical production, but talks have stalled over the cost of cleaning it up.