DOE recommends Richton for strategic petroleum reserve

DOE recommends Richton for strategic petroleum reserve

The U.S. Department of Energy formally announced Friday that salt domes in Richton are the preferred site to expand the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve.

“As an inland site, Richton will have less vulnerability to hurricane impacts and will be connected by pipeline to the Capline pipeline system and to refiners and marine facilities in Pascagoula for distribution,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., Gov. Haley Barbour and others had announced Thursday that the Richton site DOE’s choice.

The reserve would hold about 16 percent of the 1 billion barrels of oil government officials want to store underground for use in an emergency. Pickering said the project would have a price tag of between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

DOE also said it wanted to expand the capacity of three existing reserve sites – two in Louisiana and one in Texas. There already are about 50 salt domes used for petroleum storage in Mississippi, state officials said.

The Richton site is located on 1,500 acres off Mississippi 42 west of Richton. The site was considered in the late 1970s for storage of nuclear waste and in the early 1990s for petroleum.

Construction time is estimated at nine to 10 years, officials said.

Richton Mayor Jimmy White said the announcement was “fantastic news for us. We hope that it will give us an economic boom. We depend heavily on the timber industry so this will add another outlet.”

The mayor said DOE had held two public meetings in Richton this summer and those who attended “were overwhelmingly in favor of it.”

“A lot of questions were asked,” he said. “The DOE had suitable answers for everybody with environmental impacts. I have not talked to anyone that is in opposition to it.”

©2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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