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City continues oil spill preparations

Pascagoula continues working to prepare for oil along the City’s coastlines



PASCAGOULASince the oil spill began and Pascagoulas shorelines were threatened the city’s elected officials and employees have worked closely with representatives from BP, Jackson County, the state, and other responding agencies.



After declaring a State of Emergency, the Council has taken numerous actions to prepare for the arrival of oil,” said Councilman-At-Large Harold Tillman. A few results from those efforts include BP establishing a staging area in our City, approval of a grant that will reimburse the City for purchases made to combat the spill, and we held a Public Meeting for Q&A with Federal, State and local responders.”



While the City Council has been taking actions, response efforts are being coordinated “on the ground” by City staff in preparation for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.



DEQ and the Bureau of Marine Resources are currently adding 36,500 feet of ‘snare boom’ to the 179,500 feet of boom already deployed along the islands, coastlines, and marshes in Jackson County,” said Pascagoula Police Sgt. Doug Adams, also the city’s BP liaison. “Boaters are being asked to use caution when traveling around the boom and to watch for boom lighting that is being added for improved night visibility.”



The City has also been working closely with BP from their Jackson County headquarters in Pascagoula. BP has 2,100 personnel stationed at this site with 1,900 of these classified as field workers who are ready to respond if oil makes landfall on our shorelines.



The city’s approach to the oil spill is similar to the type of preparation we take for tropical storms and hurricanes,” said Steve Mitchell, operations manager.  “We won’t really know what we’re dealing with until the oil hits our shorelines but we continue working with BP and other agency to respond when and if that happens.”   



At this time all City offices are open with normal hours of operations and all beaches, parks, and piers remain open.  Citizens are encouraged to check the City of Pascagoulas website at www.cityofpacagoula.com updates.         



Below is a brief recap of the actions taken by the City of Pascagoula to prepare for the oil spill crisis:

  • Friday, April 30:  The City Council activated a “State of Emergencyfor 30-days to be continued until the threat and possible impact of the oil spill has passed.  This declaration allows the City to make emergency purchases without adhering to normal bid laws and makes the City eligible for state funding for disaster assistance.



  • Friday, April 30:  Resolution passed by the City Council allowing contractors involved in oil spill clean-up efforts to temporarily locate within the City’s industrial zones without going through the usual permitting process.  A similar action was taken after Hurricane Katrina that also allowed temporary emergency permitting for a limited period of time.  British Petroleum (BP) and their sub-contractors have taken advantage of this resolution establishing staging areas for equipment and personnel.

 

  • Friday, April 30: Booms were staged for the City of Pascagoulas Inner Harbor, the Singing River Yacht Club, and the mouth of Bayou Cassotte.  Booming operations have been continuous and ongoing for all other sensitive waters within the City and County.



  • Monday, May 3: The Inner Harbor was officially closed to inbound and outbound vessel traffic for an undetermined amount of time.



  • Established a contact person at City Hall for BP and their sub-contractors to set-up and conduct training for hazmat details and cleaning efforts.



  • The Pascagoula Police Chief assigned a Sergeant in the Police Department to act as liaison between the City and BP for the duration of the crisis.  As liaison, daily reports from the BP staging area at Bayou Cassotte and their headquarters at the LaFont Inn off Highway 90 will be provided to the City.



  • The City Manager designated the Fire Chief as coordinator of the City’s response to the oil spill.  As coordinator, the Fire Chief is attending conferences and taking part in daily calls to keep abreast of the efforts being made by BP, the State, and Jackson County to respond to the spill.



  • Various members of the City’s staff such as the City Manager, Attorney, Human Resource Director, Program Manager, Operations Manager, Fire Chief, and Police Chief continue to attend conference calls with Federal, State, and local officials to share information concerning mitigation and recovery efforts and to stay abreast of the latest developments.



  • Tuesday, May 18: The City Council passes a resolution authorizing off duty police officers to wear their uniforms and use side arms when employed by BP or their sub-contractors for security purposes within the city limits of Pascagoula.  The presence of these officers at the staging areas has facilitated movement of equipment and personnel while keeping disturbances at a minimum.



  • Tuesday, May 18: The City Council authorized the submittal of a grant request with DMR and DEQ for the purchase of materials and equipment needed by the City to help combat the effects of the oil spill once it reaches shore.  Both DMR and DEQ have since approved the grant funding request and the authorized items are being purchased by the City.



  • Established a page on the City of Pascagoula website and are utilizing the City’s FaceBook page to keep the general public advised as to the location of the spill and the steps being taken by BP and their sub-contractors to mitigate the effects of the spill.  Numbers have been listed on these sites to report evidence of oil on the beach or in our marshes, and any wildlife adversely affected by the spill.



  • Thursday, May 27:  A Town Hall meeting was held at 7 p.m. at the Pascagoula Recreation Center in which citizens had the opportunity to hear the latest update followed by a question and answer session with representatives from BP, DEQ, DMR, EPA, SBA, and the U.S. Coast Guard.



  • Tuesday, June 1:  The Council authorized Frank Corder, Ward 4 Councilman, to travel to Jackson, MS to participate in a series of hearings before a committee of the House of Representatives that is investigating interlocal cooperation with BP in dealing with the oil spill and the adverse environmental impact of the crisis. Corder will be providing testimony at the hearing concerning the City’s participation in these efforts.                                     



Hotline phone numbers to report possible damages due to the oil spill:

o        Report issues with BOOM: 1-251-475-2056 or 1-251-475-1256

o        Animals covered in oil: 1-866-557-1404

o        Oil on shorelines: 1-866-448-5816





 

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