Discussions continue about how to restore the gulf

Published: Jan. 19, 2012 at 1:57 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2012 at 3:34 AM CST
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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A crowd of about 100 gathered at the Westside Community Center in Gulfport Wednesday night, to hear how BP plans to spend $1 billion dollars.  That is how much the oil giant has set aside to restore the Gulf after the massive oil spill in 2010.

The company maintains the money will go a long way to restoring the natural habitat of the Gulf.

The plans call for eight initial restoration projects to be carried out in four states.  Mississippi would be the scene of two of those projects; the others would be in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

In Mississippi, the plan is to restore about 1,400 acres of material around existing oyster reefs, and also to establish nearly 70 small near shore reefs.

Trudy Fisher of the MDEQ told us it is important to know this is only the beginning. "We will be doing this work for a long time. We are determined to make sure it is done right in every way," Fisher said.  The work could start early next year.

One of the concerns heard from some folks at the meeting dealt with who will be hired to do this work.

Some said they had heard rumors that big national contractors would be hired and they would bring in their own employees.

MDEQ's Fisher said it is much too early to make such statements. She said that when the time comes to contract out the work, the state will do everything in its power to make sure those contractors do hire local people.

This was the second of three public hearings the state will hold to talk about this initial phase of restoration work.  The final meeting is Thursday night in Waveland.

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