Friday, January 18, 2008

BETTY JO MILLER Speaks Out Against The Richton Salt Dome Project

Salt dome plan poses a threat to oyster industry

Once it was common knowledge in Biloxi that high salinity ruins our oyster harvest, yet the Sun Herald has recently published two optimistic articles about oyster industry recovery which do not mention the government's plans for the Richton salt dome.

Low salinity protects oysters from the conch, a natural predator which can decimate commercial beds. A Nov. 10 article warned of a potential "catastrophic collapse of the oyster industry" that would "displace the entire economy of the Bay region," however that story referred to reductions in fresh water entering the Apalachicola Bay. The problem is the same - too much salt - but the issue there is the drought-induced water war of Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

In Mississippi, our elected officials are planning a self-inflicted catastrophic collapse by allowing the oil interests a cheap place to spit the salt they suck from the Richton dome. They also will allow their buddies to flush away 50 million gallons of fresh water a day from a pristine river, when our neighbors face a water crisis. While we were on our hands and knees fighting our way up from Katrina's mud, these guys saw the opportunity to work us over.

This mal-conceived plan may be lucrative for a few, but it will be disastrous for those of us who love our coastal home. Our seafood, bird life, national park, and budding eco-tourism industry are all at risk. Why not strip-mine the Grand Canyon or clear-cut Yellowstone? There are better ways to stockpile oil.

For more info on how salinity affects the oyster industry, Google "Thais Haemastoma & salinity." Particularly pertinent are "Notes on the Louisiana Conch...
" by Martin D. Burkenroad, and "Effects of Salinity and Temperature...
" by David Garton and William B. Stickle.

Oysters were once the staple that kept our ancestors from starving during the years of the Mississippi Bubble. If we don't pay attention, that bountiful resource will be lost for the sake of another shell game.


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