Harrison County supervisors support barrier to protect bay - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Harrison County supervisors support barrier to protect bay

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS  (WLOX) - Harrison County supervisors are taking action to try and protect inland waterways from any oil intrusion.

The board voted Monday to work with Hancock County on a project to install special fencing across the mouth of the Bay of St. Louis.

A series of wooden pilings would be placed in a line across the entrance to the bay. Those pilings will hold "containment curtains" in place; special fabric curtains that could be lowered quickly should the oil arrive.

"I feel like the old story about everybody seems to be fiddling while Rome was burning. And what's happening is, we're fiddling while oil is approaching us. And once it gets here, it's too late," said supervisor Marlin Ladner.

That's why supervisor Ladner encouraged the board to support plans to erect an oil blockade across the mouth of the Bay of St. Louis.

A line of pilings would hold rolls of "containment curtain" in place.  When oil threatens, that curtain barrier could be lowered quickly.

"When that happens, it would take two boats about an hour to deploy all the way across the bay. Basically, they would cut the ropes and allow that to come down," said Mickey Lagasse of Compton Engineering.

The curtains are made of special material designed to trap the incoming oil.

"A permeable material that will allow water to flow back and forth between the bay, just like it always has. However, the oil will stick to this stuff," says Lagass

Sand beach director Bobby Weaver likes the idea, provided the barrier works as advertised.

"Blocking off a body of water and will the material be able to handle the increased current that might be a result of somewhat dampening the normal ebb and flow of the tidal action," said Weaver.

"We know the oil is coming. And if we don't put up some sort of defense, what could be more devastating than that?" said Ladner.

Harrison County supervisors are growing increasingly frustrated with the process, a process they say makes it very difficult for them to proceed with a project like this one.

Board president Connie Rockco addressed her concerns to BP.

"Please work with the local entity that is affected. Because we know and care about our citizens and our future, and we are going to step out and protect them," Rockco said.

Supervisors say they'll submit their project to the "unified command" and through the proper channels.

The board also agreed to support similar plans for protecting Biloxi Bay, provided leaders Biloxi, Ocean Springs and Jackson County agree to the fencing idea.

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