In 2013, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) began a focused strategic collaboration effort between industries and a local citizens group to hear the concerns of residents, leverage relationships, share ideas, and develop methods to address concerns. The MDEQ used collaborative methods to enhance cooperation among the community and industry, as well as local, state, and federal governments that shared responsibilities and overlapping jurisdictions. The MDEQ collaborative efforts were designed to bring these groups together to work on problems not easily solved by one group alone. Through these collaborative partnerships, residents and community groups have strengthened their capacity and confidence to work with the industries to address environmental concerns.
A critical component of this effort was getting industries located in the Industrial Park to evaluate their processes for fugitive emissions. Once industries were committed to collaborating with the community, MDEQ incorporated a Dust Management Plan into the Title V permits of two of the nearest shipbuilding industries. One industry agreed to conduct monitoring for sulfur dioxide in the surrounding neighborhood. All the industries provided direct numbers (both landlines and cell) to community representatives for immediate responses to concerns. The Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) used 2016 grant monies to start a Code Red (Reverse 911) Communication Awareness Campaign and purchase shelter-in-place kits for the community. MDEQ hosted informational sessions, served on the Pascagoula Air and Water Team, and sent out numerous fact sheets with updates about activities taking place at and around Industrial Park.
MDEQ will maintain focus on community engagement and outreach by taking opportunities to engage stakeholders, partner with federal and nonfederal partners, and share information and tools that are important to communities and consistent with MDEQ early efforts. Today, MDEQ continues to work on sustaining ongoing interaction and open lines of communication between the community and industries.
Results to Date:
2016: MDEQ Air Division drafted ambient air sampling plan after collaborating with a community. Plan sent to community for review and comments. Implemented in Fall 2016.
2015: Communities organized an Air and Water Team with industry and government representation, and LEPC creates sub-group to review notification process in Emergency Response Plan. Community representative to serve on subgroup.
2014: MDEQ and U.S. EPA partnered to sponsor a full-day Community Air Permitting Workshop for the public.
Director, Office of Community Engagement
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality