Suit alleges east Biloxi roadwork pollutes the back bay

Published: May. 2, 2017 at 11:11 AM CDT|Updated: May. 2, 2017 at 10:07 PM CDT
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The contractor rebuilding sewer systems and roads in east Biloxi may be polluting the back bay. That assertion is the basis of a federal lawsuit filed by the Gulf Restoration Network against Oscar Renda Contracting.

The lawsuit claims the contractor is in violation of the Clean Water Act. Environmentalists believe Oscar Renda has not done enough to prevent polluted dirt from flowing into Biloxi Bay and bayous flowing into the bay. Sediment flows are reportedly so heavy, the suit alleges, "that they change the color of the receiving waters to a milky brown and have caused the buildup of pollutant-laden deposits in sensitive coastal habitats."

"When you have a really big construction project like this, you have to have good housekeeping practices," attorney Robert Wiygul with the Gulf Restoration Network noted.

Wiygul said people started contacting him several months ago about their pollution concerns at Keegan Bayou and Auguste Bayou, among other locations.

"This lawsuit is about this company to get those good housekeeping practices in place, and fixing the things that have broke," Wiygul said.

Gulf Restoration Network's suit says environmentalists reached out to Oscar Renda in February asking the company to deal with the violations. It says Oscar Renda has taken some steps to control polluted runoff. However, the 81 page lawsuit notes a substantial portion of the construction project remains unstable. Consequently, the suit says, "the Court's intervention is necessary to protect public resources from further degradation."

Oscar Renda is in the middle of a massive $355 million to repair and rebuild the infrastructure in east Biloxi. The project required the company to tear up miles of city streets, and dig up and replace underground sewer lines. For months, neighbors and business owners across east Biloxi have complained to city hall because of dirt roads that are often impossible to drive over.

Gulf Restoration Network attorneys filed the lawsuit April 27. Oscar Renda attorneys have not filed a response.

We reached out to Oscar Renda for a comment but have not heard back at this time. We will add the company's comment to this story if and when we receive it.

Project Manager Joel Murrah with Oscar Renda Contracting has previously stated that his company understands there have been a lot of issues with this project, and they're working tirelessly to get through their technical issues. He also says the company appreciates the public's patience.

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