BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - One year ago, as summer heat soared, so did the number of cleanup crews picking up oil on the beaches. Now, there are only a handful of crews still working, and most cleanup efforts are focused on the barrier islands.
Cleanup on the islands has stopped temporarily due to nesting season. However, when it starts back in a few weeks BP wants to operate all crews, boats and trucks from one location.
"As we're getting ready to gear back up once we're allowed to go back on the Barrier Islands, we've got our Point Cadet where a lot of the boat are. We've got Jones Trucking where most of our land operations are. So, Yates Construction, our contractor, was just going to consolidate back on 5th street in the Back Bay area," said BP spokesperson Ray Melick.
The proposed new central location would be beside the new Margaritaville construction site. Yates Construction engineers brought the idea before Biloxi's Development Review Committee early this week.
Some leaders are concerned that a cleanup station beside the casino could be bad for business.
"You definitely want Margaritaville to be wide open; you definitely want to bring the people in, which they will. And, to have something on the side of it, that's debatable," said Biloxi Ward One Councilman George Lawrence.
"There won't be any manufacturing, recycling going on in that site. That's simply a transfer site. A place for workers to meet," said Melick.
With fewer tar balls appearing on shorelines, BP officials are hoping most of their island clean up will be finished before the casino is operational, which would minimize any possible impact.
According to Melick, clean up is now just a five day a week operation, with only four crews stationed in the coastal counties.
How long the continued clean up would take will depend on the amount of oil found in the islands once workers are allowed to return.
"It's going to take them anywhere from nine to 10 months to finish Margaritaville. If they'd be out before that, I don't think that'd be a problem, but it's something they'd have to look at," said Lawrence.
The plans for the new BP location are still in the early stages of approval. There are still issues of zoning, council approval and possibly public approval before the plans can come to fruition.