Ancient tactics used to protect beach from oil - - The News for South Mississippi

Ancient tactics used to protect beach from oil


By Rebecca Powers – bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - The face of Pass Christian's beachfront looks a lot different today. Harrison County's Sand Beach Department is trying any and everything it can to protect the sand from possible oil contamination.

"The berms are kind of put there to make it a higher elevation," Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver said.

Berms are among the oldest constructions made by man and have been used for centuries to bolster defenses, aid in home construction, provide privacy or contain areas. On Pass Christian's beachfront, containment is the hope.

"So the intent is to create this berm if oil would come in, and just rest along the wet sand area of the shoreline," Weaver said.

Natural, more flattened berms are normally present on beaches, created by repeated sediment deposits from storm waves. Normally workers with the Sand Beach Department spend time smoothing down natural berms to make the beach more pleasing to the eye, but not this time.

"Under the circumstances, instead of taking it out, we're going to go ahead and keep it in place and see if it will benefit us if we do have oil come to the shore," Weaver said. "And we don't want it to be where there's a lower height on that elevation and we get a little strong wind and it pushes it over. Cause sometimes we get this little storm tides and it pushes water up to the quarter point or halfway point of the beach."

They started in Pass Christian, but plan to create the berms on most of the 26 mile beach shoreline. As they go, cleaning any debris will also be helpful, just in case.

"So we are doing that in tandem, we got a crew out in front of the berm crew canvassing the beach," Weaver said. "We had been out cleaning the beach today anyway, so we just focused on the shoreline instead of doing the full beach and just make a full sweep of it."

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