Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
Miss. DEQ seek help in assessing oil spill damage
OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. — Officials with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality are seeking the public’s help in determining how much BP should pay for damaging natural resources in the state during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
MDEQ is handling Mississippi’s portion of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment.
“We started with shoreline assessment in mid-July. And that ran for about a month and a half. And that was teams going up and down the shore along the coast and assessing them for damage,” said Nick Gatian, an environmental administrator with MDEQ.
Converted skimmer boats are now using different sampling devices to search for oil in the Mississippi Sound and around the barrier islands.
Absorbent “pom poms” are among the oil seeking materials.
“And then we take the pom pom material and tie that to the chain and we would have several of those pom poms down the chain,” Gatian said.
The chain of pom poms is lowered into the water to cover specific “transects” at 60 sampling locations.
“Then we’ll pull it up and see what we get,” he said.
For example, she said, the inability to enjoy the beach or a favorite fishing spot during the BP oil spill.
“That is a loss that will be compensated for as well. The loss of the human use of the beaches. And the loss of the use of being able to get in your boat on a Saturday morning and go fishing,” said Fisher.
Fisher said a meeting is set for Nov. 22 in Long Beach to explain the damage assessment process to the public.
“The public meeting is not for individual claims,” she said. “It will be just a good opportunity, a question-answer session for the community to learn more about the this process.”
Fisher said the state is also working with other Gulf states, NOAA and the U.S. Department of Interior on the damage assessment.
The damage assessment is a legal process set out in the Oil Pollution Act, she said. “The outcome is based on the science.”
Fisher said BP PLC is also doing a damage assessment.
“We are making our legal case,” Fisher said. “What we are doing is establishing a claim that could stand up in court.”
There is an effort that the government assessments and BP use the same methods in the damage assessment, she said.
“We want to avoid going to court. We want to avoid a long drawn out process,” she said.
There is no timeline for completing the assessment, she said.
BP pays for the assessment work, Fisher said.