Sunday, December 02, 2007

Salt dome plan is a disaster in the making

This was in the Letters to the Editor (Sun Herald)

Salt dome plan is a disaster in the making
The plan by the Department of Energy to use fresh water to hollow out the salt dome at Richton for oil storage is a disaster in the making.
The DOE plans to pump 50 million gallons of fresh water per day from the Pascagoula River to dissolve the salt in the dome. The salt slurry would then be pumped through a 100-mile-long pipeline and discharged into the Gulf of Mexico near the Pascagoula ship channel. This process would last five years. Once the dome is hollowed out, oil would be pumped into the cavity via the same pipeline.


The federal government deems this necessary for national security. I will not argue with national security, but I, and many others, take strong issue with the plan. Given the current drought conditions, and fights over water resources in neighboring states, it makes no sense to turn 50 million gallons of fresh water per day into a toxic salt slurry, then pump that slurry into a prime wildlife habitat.

The DOE-prepared environmental impact study concludes that there will be little environmental impact, yet cites the potential for brine spills of up to 34.7 million gallons (as has already occurred at another storage site), that the brine plume would enter the Pascagoula ship channel, and that there would be an adverse impact on water resources. Removing 50 million gallons of water per day from the river system and dumping 140 billion gallons of salt brine will have more than a little environmental impact. This amount of brine will impact the entire Mississippi Sound.

The DOE is moving ahead with this plan, partly because there was very little comment from the Coast counties at public hearings held immediately after Hurricane Katrina. Before this goes any further, independent studies should be required.

If the storage site at Richton is necessary, at least modify the plan to reduce the environmental impact. Pull the water from the Gulf instead of the river, and discharge the brine farther out into the Gulf.

This impacts all of South Mississippi. Please voice your concern to our governor, senators and congressmen.

ERIC RICHARDS Pascagoula

I plan to start writing letters ASAP.

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