Oil spill forces Pass business to temporarily close - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil spill forces Pass business to temporarily close

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) -

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS    (WLOX) – Another shipment of oysters arrived Tuesday morning at the Crystal Seas Seafood plant in Pass Christian. About 20 employees immediately went to work, sorting, washing, and bagging the oysters for local restaurants. The manager said that load was probably their last.

"Since the oil spill started, the supply of oysters has been getting shorter and shorter each week. This is the last, the worst week," said Jennifer Jenkins, whose family owns the business.

Since 1996, Crystal Seas has been purchasing oysters mainly from docks and dealers in Louisiana.  The company also has its own oyster leases in Louisiana. The last batch from Louisiana came last week.

"The supplies have really dwindled," said Jenkins.  "There's less dealers to buy from because the areas are closed. The dock that we own, the areas around it are closed or the boats have gone to work for the Vessels of Opportunity Program."

Supplies from Texas are also running low.

"We were expecting this to go on from Texas for a couple of more weeks.  And last night, we learned that the load that they put on our truck was the last load to be supplied from them," said Jenkins.

Normally around this time, dozens of employees would be sitting around the rows of machines, shucking oysters.  However, lately, the equipment has been sitting idle.  The company once employed 120 workers.  But since the oil spill, half of them have been laid off.

And with no dealers to buy from, Crystal Seas had to tell its remaining employees that Tuesday was probably their last day of work.

"It's become a little nerve-wracking to be honest with you, because I guess we don't want to face the fact that it's going to be over with," said Jenkins.  "We always think maybe there's going to be one more load coming, but I don't think so this time."

And the company's future remains uncertain, as long as oil continues to gush into the Gulf.

"It's continued to get worse instead of better," said Jenkins. "So maybe in August, when they cap the well, and then deem the water quality safe, we'll be able to go back to work."

Crystal Seas and many of the employees have filed claims with BP, hoping to be compensated for their loss. 

Just so you know, at its peak, the company processed about 1,500 sacks of oysters a day.  Lately though, that number has dropped to about 300 sacks a week.       

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