Wave Maker's News: Kemper Mine Threatens Healthy Waters


This article is excerpted from Wave Maker's News, our quarterly update on all things water in the Gulf of Mexico, check out the full newsletter here.

okatibee lakesmallerOkatibbee Reservoir and portions of the future mine site. In recent months, Mississippi Power has applied for three different environmental permits for its dirty, expensive and unnecessary Kemper coal plant and mine. One of these permit applications covers wetland loss during pipeline construction. Two others cover mining operations including sedimentation ponds to treat runoff and mine water.


At a public hearing held by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) concerning the two mining permits, GRN and dozens of citizens urged MDEQ to deny the permits and put a stop to this destructive project. As currently designed, the sedimentation ponds will catch the stormwater runoff in the mining area, supposedly settle out the sediment and harmful acidic components, and discharge the “treated” water into two creeks that feed into the Okatibbee Reservoir, five miles downstream. The people who fish and swim in Okatibbee should be very concerned about harmful mining runoff washing into the Reservoir, not to mention impacts on the Pascagoula River drainage beyond.

To add insult to injury, the mining discharges could be completely avoided if Mississippi Power and its partners were willing to invest an extra half million dollars to build larger, no-discharge ponds. With an overall price tag of upwards of $2.8 billion for the Kemper project, this investment in clean water would represent less than one tenth of one percent of the total project costs!

The MDEQ permit board, composed entirely of executive agency employees and governor’s appointees, granted both permits for the Kemper mine on Tuesday Dec. 13, 2011. In response to comments from GRN and others, a few additional limits were added for toxic compounds in the treatment pond effluent water, and some biological monitoring was required in the streams that receive the water. However, these treatment ponds remain the cheapest ponds that can be built and still satisfy regulations. Mississippi Power could do so much more for the health of the Okatibbee Reservoir and the waters that drain into the Pascagoula River.

Andrew Whitehurst is GRN's Assistant Director of Science and Water Policy.


Recent Posts

Many Americans have never heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), despite the...
Written by Raleigh Hoke
Friday, 12 October 2018
The comment period closed September 6th on the “One Lake” project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement...
Written by Andrew Whitehurst
Tuesday, 09 October 2018
Last month, the federal government filed new reports suggesting that the Taylor Energy oil leak,...
Written by Raleigh Hoke
Thursday, 04 October 2018
Gulf Restoration Network has begun a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiative that will inform...
Written by Andrew Whitehurst
Wednesday, 26 September 2018
1985 seems like a long time ago. For those who care about clean water—which is...
Written by Christian Wagley
Monday, 24 September 2018
The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA)’s “Coastal Connections on the Water” event in...
Written by Kendall Dix
Tuesday, 18 September 2018
This article originally appeared on the blog of Marine Fish Conservation Network. It was reprinted...
Written by Kendall Dix
Friday, 31 August 2018

Latest Actions