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DOE plans hearings on proposed Miss. salt dome project

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced three public hearings in April on plans to use south Mississippi salt domes to store petroleum reserves.

The DOE chose the Richton domes in Perry County after Congress mandated an expansion of the reserve set aside for national emergencies such as hurricanes or terrorist attacks.

Congress recently allotted $25 million to purchase real estate and rights of way for the project, which will use the Richton site to hold 160 million barrels of oil. When in use, about five years after salt mining begins in 2014, the national petroleum reserve will be at 1 billion barrels.

The hearings will be held at Greene County High School on April 8, George County Senior Center in Lucedale on April 9, and at the B.E. “Mac” McGinty Civic Center in Pascagoula on April 10.

Oppositions has centered on DOE’s plan to draw 50 million gallons of water per day from the Leaf and Pascagoula rivers to hollow out the salt dome in Richton. The brine from the process would be piped south of Horn Island, an area where Gulf habitats would be threatened, opponents have argued.

Concern has also been expressed about a proposed oil terminal the DOE wants to place on waterfront property in or around Pascagoula.

On the Net:

Department of Energy: http://www.fossil.energy.gov