Barbour asks EPA to block Jones County casino

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour announced Thursday he has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to halt construction of a casino in Jones County.

Barbour's statement claims the proposed wastewater system for the casino will negatively impact groundwater in the area, and the facility will not comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is building the facility which will house slot machines and a snack bar near Sandersville. Barbour and other state officials have stated their opposition to the casino in the past.

"Because the current design of the wastewater system jeopardizes the safety of the water supply in the area where both tribal members and Mississippi citizens live and work, I ask this agency to stand behind its August 11, 2010 comments and enforce all applicable environmental laws and regulations," Gov. Barbour wrote in a letter Wednesday.

That statement refers to a report by Bob Freeman with the EPA who reviewed the waste treatment plans at the facility, and according to Barbour's office, he recommended changes to the design.

The letter, addressed to Stan Meiburg, EPA regional administrator, goes on to say, "Due to the fast pace of the construction of this slot parlor, I request that you, as action Regional Administrator, address these environmental concerns and order that further construction cease..."

Choctaw and EPA officials have yet to comment on the matter.

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