Harrison County leaders say BP sub-grant money is still needed

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Leaders in Harrison County are fighting to keep funding they believe is necessary to keep Mississippi beaches oil free.

Monday, most county and city agencies along the coast received a letter from the Department of Marine Resources telling them that a stop order was in place on any new equipment or projects paid for with BP grants. Harrison County Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver said his department still needs that money to undo the damage that has been done.

Conditions in the Gulf have changed since oil first began spewing into the coastal waters. But, the remnants of what was once in the Gulf is now embedded in our shoreline.

"We were able to detect in one area that we had oil at least eight inches deep. So there's some material that needs to be removed," Bobby Weaver said.

With oil still submerged in some areas of the beach, Weaver said it is critical the county still receive that money to remove the oil.

"We need to make sure we end up with a condition of sand and that is safe and acceptable level for everybody to enjoy," said Weaver.

The letter sent by the Department of Marine Resources also states that if there are any oil related activities the county feels needs to be completed, leaders can put together a package including a budget guideline to re-submit to DMR.

"And that's what we're working on right now," Weaver said. "There's an issue there. We want to make sure that those levels registered in the sand are right and need to be done to correct that problem to get the sand to a clean level."

According to Weaver, the county is focusing on identifying the oiled areas, establishing a budget and resubmitting their package plan.

"We're just hopeful that they'll go ahead and approve it and allow us to continue with the grant as we were anticipating to do through the balance of this year," said Weaver.

Weaver said the county is doing what it can to get the Mississippi Coast's white, sandy beaches back to their pre-oil spill condition. He said the county's proposal will be submitted to DMR first thing Monday morning. Harrison County does not know when it will find out if it has been approved for the sub-grant agreement to be continued.

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