Thousands of dead fish floating in Pascagoula

Published: Aug. 19, 2013 at 10:22 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 20, 2013 at 9:54 AM CDT
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PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Thousands of fish are dead in Bayou Casotte forcing the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to close the bayou and part of the Mississippi Sound. MDEQ is also advising people to not eat any seafood from the area until further notice.

Mississippi Phosphates said a release of water from the plant led to the fish kill.

Owner of CC's Bait Shop Charles Williamson Jr. said, "If I continue taking hits like that, I can't stay in business."

He said every time the water is contaminated, his business suffers. This time Williamson lost 65 pounds of shrimp.

"It will take me about a week to get my stock back up because we haven't been catching a lot of shrimp," Williamson said. "So all that shrimp I had was four days worth of work. That's four days of burning diesel, four days paying help."

Five months ago another fish kill forced MDEQ to again close the boat ramps, causing him to lose about $5,000 in bait and business.

"It has just been a hard, uphill battle," Williamson said.

He is not the only one frustrated.

"Financially, I am at a loss," commercial crabber Brandon Pierpont said. "It is pushing all the crab out into the channel and everything that can get out is trying to. And what's left in here, like I said, I'm real low on numbers and had a lot of dead loss."

"For years, they say vegetation on the bank, depletion of the oxygen in the water. But look, you can only fool people so many times. It just continues to happen, so something needs to be done about it," fisherman Fred Waters said.

Mississippi Phosphates said the heavy rain Sunday forced the company to do an emergency discharge of processing water into Bayou Casotte to avoid an even larger uncontrolled release.

Williamson said the company should at least give some notice to those who make a living off the bayou.

"They need to give me a call, so I can shut off all my pumps and save the water I got and continue selling my live bait. That would be the neighborly thing to do," Williamson said.

Mississippi Phosphates has begun to pick up the fish. Read the full statement from Richard Johnson, VP of Operations at Mississippi Phosphates Corporation:

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