DMR Rids River Of 30 Year Old Eyesore - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/19/03

DMR Rids River Of 30 Year Old Eyesore

It's taken 30 years, but now a Pascagoula eyesore is on its way out of town. This week, work crews will remove the last of three abandoned barges from the Pascagoula River. In the last five years, the Department of Marine Resource has removed 115 derelict barges and boats from coast waterways.

In the past three decades the bridge has changed, but the view for drivers crossing the Pascagoula River hasn't.

"There's been at least one of these barges here since I can remember back in the sixties," said Irvin Jackson, a planning manager for DMR. "It's the first thing you see really driving over the Pascagoula bridge and it's not a good image for the community."

DMR officials say they would have hauled away unsightly barges years ago, had it not been for the expense of moving hundreds of tons of steel.

"The difficulty is normally the price is very costly, so we have to find an economical method to do it."

Jackson says before DMR can remove sunken boats, a judge has to give the go ahead.

"This can sometimes take anywhere from six months to two years, but it's a legal process that you have to do, and it's just something that you have to work with."

Last year, DMR removed a record 33 derelict vessels from coast waterways. And officials say our waterways are safer because of it.

"It could cause sinkings and drownings. [We're] removing things that could otherwise damage the environment such as boats with fuel and oil that might be leaking."

As for the barge, it will be out of sight, but not out of commission. Eventually it will become an artificial reef in the sound.

"Instead of an eyesore and a hazard to navigation, they will be providing fish habitat and supporting our recreational fishing."

The Department of Marine Resources' next project is to remove some abandoned barges in Hancock County. Officials credit their success to support from the state legislature.

by Danielle Thomas

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