HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The city of Hattiesburg's confidential settlement in a 2013 lawsuit against Hercules, Inc. and Ashland, Inc. has been unveiled.
The city will receive $3 million from the settlement that alleged the Hercules plant "knowingly and improperly disposed of hazardous waste."
"Several years ago we entered into a lawsuit with Hercules because of what we believe are damages they caused to our wastewater system, certainly if you go through some streets you see where we had some holes in the streets, really one of them had collapsed because of the pipes that had been damaged," said Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree.
According to Mayor DuPree, the city will be able to use the funds for a one-time purchase or something that will not be a reoccurring expense.
"$3 million sounds like a lot of money when you talk about years and years of that contamination that they have had over there," DuPree said.
Mayor DuPree said the plant at one time employed more people than any other location in the city and was a livelihood for many residents.
"That being said, there are still things that need to be done, need to be cleaned up over there," DuPree said. "Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Quality with the state are actually keeping Ashland or Hercules foot to the fire to make sure that they clean up the contamination that's on that 150-acre site."
DuPree said he would like to see the site turned into something again that the city can benefit from.
"They are going to do that, but we wanted to make sure that if we were getting something monetary so that we could actually have something where the entire community could benefit from, i.e. drainage, sewer, water, street repair, all those types of things we can take that $3 million and use for," DuPree said.
Hattiesburg City Councilman Carter Carroll added that it's a positive thing for the city to close and put behind them, but that it doesn't mean the fight for the residents is over.
"This does settle the cities portion of the suit, but individuals and neighborhoods and people in that area can still file suit against the company," Carroll said.
DuPree added that the city council and other city officials are in the beginning stages of budget talks and it will be a combined collection of ideas as to where the money will be spent.