Wicker and Richton officials discuss oil reserve - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Wicker and Richton officials discuss oil reserve

By Kevin Wheeler - bio | email | Twitter

RICHTON, MS (WDAM) - The town of Richton and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker can agree on the importance of the strategic petroleum reserve.

The federal government may turn a salt dome in the area into a storage facility for oil.

"This is an important project," said Sen. Roger Wicker. "I think it's important for our country, it's important for job creation."

"From the economic standpoint it would be a great project; he's all for that," said Bo Ruffin, Richton mayor.

The U.S. Department of Energy has been eyeing a site in Richton to become a potential site for oil storage, and Wicker met with town officials Tuesday to find ways to get the project moving.

"It's got to be a win - win situation," said Wicker. "It has to be a win for Richton, a win for the environment, a win for the Pascagoula River."

The site off of Highway 42 sits on a salt dome. The DOE wants to store about 160 million barrels of oil there. In order to do that, the salt has to be flushed out. Fifty million gallons of water a day would be pumped from the Pascagoula river. The resulting brine would be sent down a pipeline into the gulf.

Critics say the whole process is dangerous to the environment.

"We have seen no studies that will affect the environment and that's what we keep saying and we don't know if some other type of test they would like to be done," said Ruffin.

Wicker said he does not support the project if there are harmful results. He wants all parties affected to collaborate and assure each other that it does not come to that.

"It is a sensitive situation where we are going to have to have a consensus before it goes forward," said Wicker. 

Ruffin said the project would initially have 1,500 jobs and 150 permanent jobs once complete.

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