LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - How much do you think BP should pay Mississippi for damage done to our natural resources? That is what state agencies, like the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, are charged with figuring out.
The lengthy process of deciding on a monetary number began Monday night with a public forum.
"We are hosting this meeting to share with the public the process that is being used to determine what's been hurt in the environment," MDEQ's Executive Director Trudy Fisher said. "What's it going to take to fix it and what's it going to cost to fix it?"
Whatever that cost may be, BP will be picking up the tab. The meeting at USM's Long Beach campus is the first phase of a long process of Natural Resource Damage Assessments, or NRDA.
Fisher said the public will play a key role in eventually reaching a final number for BP to pay the state for harm done to our environment.
"It's the first time we've had an opportunity to talk with the public about the process. It's very important to get public input, as it has been all along. And I just felt that the public, to really meaningfully participate, I want them to understand what the process is."
Understanding this complicated process will be difficult, especially for many Vietnamese fishermen who don't speak English fluently. That's why Tommy Truong, from the group Asian Americans For Change, was there with some special equipment.
"With these headsets that are provided, we can give simultaneous translation for people who attend today," Truong said. "And with these cards, they can write their questions on the cards and I will then translate it."
There are also data submittal forms provided by the MDEQ for anyone to fill out with damage to the environment that they have witnessed.
"If the public has information that they feel like the state doesn't know about, that they haven't provided to us before, we have forms here tonight that they can fill out the information. Leave the information with us and we're going to look into it," Fisher said.