Mississippi Press Editorial Board
The Picayune Item
PICAYUNE — Mr. Gus II - a leaning, rusting 56-year-old derelict oil platform - has worn out its welcome on the Pascagoula waterfront, and it's time to go. Port records show the eyesore has been around since mid-2006, and it's now spoiling the view of new developments like Lighthouse Park and Anchor Square as well as the site of the city's multi-million dollar riverfront investment that is being shopped to investors. Everyone seems to agree that the decaying rig needs to be moved - the owner, Dallas businessman Mike Mullen; Signal, where the rig is parked, and the city. The question is where? We suggest the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico as part of the "Rigs to Reef" program. Mr. Mullen purchased the rig for $100,000 hoping to make a profit by selling it for scrap. When the price of scrap metal plummeted, that plan was put on hold and the rig has just sat in its current location. The current price of scrap metal would have to nearly double for the project to become profitable, according to Signal officials. The city's Code Enforcement sent a letter to Signal in the summer and had a subsequent meeting about potential safety concerns to river traffic. Ron Schnoor, a senior vice president and general manager of Mississippi operations for Signal, said the rig is not a hazard. In all of the discussion, however, it seems like the "Rigs to Reef" option hasn't been seriously explored, and Mr. Gus II seems like a prime candidate. The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources operates the program in which old oil and gas production platforms can be donated to the state to be sunk, creating underwater habitat attracting fish and other aquatic life. The state cannot pay the cost of relocation, but the value of the rig and expenses associated with donation are tax deductible. The rig has already been cleaned for demolition, so it surely would pass inspection to be sunk. Mr. Mullen and Mr. Schnoor seem resigned to the fact they will never make a profit off the Mr. Gus II scrap venture. Mr. Gus II, when it was a functioning rig, was a popular fishing spot in the Gulf. Making it a prime fishing location under the Gulf and ridding the Pascagoula waterfront of an eyesore seems like a win-win.