The Department of Marine Resources has agreed to conduct a study of plans to store some of the nation's oil reserves in the Richton Salt Dome projects.
Bill Walker, the department's executive director, told lawmakers Wednesday that scientists at the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Lab have been asked to help with the study.
Walker says he is seeking funds for the study.
Environmentalists have criticized the plan to store millions of barrels of oil in an underground dome-shaped cavity in Perry County near Richton.
Under the current plan, billions of gallons of fresh water from the Pascagoula River would be used to dissolve salt from the underground dome to make room for petroleum.
The plan also would call for millions of gallons of highly concentrated saltwater to be released just outside the Mississippi Sound, south of the barrier islands, and some worry it could harm the marine life.
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