In September of 2011, the Department of Energy announced the cancellation of the last ongoing environmental study for the Richton salt dome project, effectively halting any further progress on the project. This irresponsible oil storage scheme would have required the removal of 50 million gallons of water a day from Mississippi’s Pascagoula River for 5 to 6 years to dissolve underground salt deposits. Once emptied of salt, these caverns would have been used to store oil for the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve. The extremely salty, polluted byproduct from the process would have been discharged south of one of Mississippi’s wilderness barrier islands, potentially creating a large dead zone where little sea life could survive.
GRN commends the Department of Energy on its decision. The people who live, work, and play in South Mississippi rely on a healthy Pascagoula River and Mississippi Sound and they shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice these amazing natural resources for a destructive and expensive boondoggle like the Richton salt dome project.
Since the Richton project was first proposed, a large and diverse coalition of concerned citizens and community and conservation groups joined together against this environmentally and economically damaging project. Hundreds of individuals attended hearings to call for a halt to the Richton salt dome project, and thousands of people signed petitions or wrote emails urging the Department of Energy to cancel it. Ultimately, these efforts paid off!