Board hears of the fish kill cleanup

Published 2:06 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Members of the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors on Monday received information about the Pearl River fish kill and how the cleanup is progressing.

For the last two weeks residents in the Walkiah area have been dealing with the effects of a fish kill, which has yet to have a concrete cause. While there is evidence to suggest the paper mill in Bogalusa, La., is responsible, conclusive tests are still pending.

No matter the cause, thousands of dead fish lined the banks of the Pearl River for days, producing a smell of rotting fish. Over the past weekend Pearl River County residents got the opportunity to clean up the fish and make a bit of cash, said Pearl River County Emergency Operations Director Danny Manley.

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Friday, 44 boats were put into the water to cleanup the carrion. Saturday, 73 boats were put in the water and on Sunday it was open to Walkiah residents only and  23 boats were allowed to clean up the river, Manley said. During all three days only Pearl River County residents were employed in the clean up at the rate of $500 per boat and captain and $15 per hour for each worker on the boat, Manley said.

Manley said the work done Sunday by the Walkiah residents made more headway than the work done Saturday with more than twice the manpower, since the Walkiah residents are more familiar with the area. By Monday morning a collection of black colored water had been found in the area of Old River, which is being tested. The black water seen during the initial phase of the disaster is suspected to be from the discharge of what is called “black liquor”, a by product of paper pulp production. As the river rises due to the extra flow of water put into the river by the Ross Barnett Reservoir last week Manley expects boats to be able to get to areas that were previously too shallow, allowing for the cleanup of more carrion. That water level will crest by Tuesday morning at the latest, Manley predicts.

Results of initial tests conducted by the Department of Environmental Quality at the start of the disaster are expected to be available early this week, and are expected to be part of the presentation at a meeting set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Pine Grove Baptist Church.

The board also heard from Betty Cashion, a representative with the local SPCA in Picayune. She asked the board to consider allocating as much funding as they can to the animal shelter. She said the shelter receives an average of 100 animals per week, and is able to find homes for 20 to 25 of those.

It was also announced that the Planning and Development Department was able to meet full compliance with the National Flood Insurance program. Planning and Development Director Ed Pinero Jr., said compliance will mean homeowners who are part of the NFIP plan will receive a discount of either 10 or 15 percent. It will be a few more months before the county gets the rest of the paper work and conduct another assessment but affected homeowners will be individually notified when they can notify their insurance company about the county’s compliance and receive the discount.

Board member Hudson Holliday gave an update on the Lake Troy project, planned for the Millard area. He said the county is at the point now that they need to begin seeking a permit to build the lake and seek funding. County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin also suggested going to the Corps of Engineers to inform them of the county’s intention of moving forward to get a written verdict on whether the Corps will approve moving forward.

“Let’s get this project done or quit talking about it,” Holliday said.

The board went into executive session to discuss bids on replacement of a bridge on Jacobs Road. After the executive session the board approved awarding the contract to Bush Construction Company, who bid $113,533. The project was estimated at $123,894.

In other business the board;

— Approved the Circuit Clerk to travel to Tunica for a convention set for Sept. 14-17.

— Approve holding a budget workshop on Thursday, Aug. 25, at 9 a.m. in the board room.

The next regular meeting of the board will be Sept. 6, at 9 a.m.