HATTIESBURG — Forrest County is soon to begin enforcing a fencing and signage ordinance for local oil and gas fields that was contested and affirmed by the Mississippi Supreme Court earlier this year.
Sheriff Billy McGee tells The Hattiesburg American his deputies likely will begin enforcing the ordinance this week after briefings on the ordinance’s provisions and a survey of oil operations within the county.
The supervisors passed the ordinance on Sept. 9, 2010. The ordinance requires oil and gas operations in Forrest County to install a 5-foot perimeter fence with barbed wire standing at least 25 feet away from any site improvements, provide locking gates at points of access to the inside of the fence, display warning signs on storage tanks and provide locking gates on storage tank stairwells.
Board of Supervisors attorney David Miller said violations can be punished by up to $1,000 per violation per day each violation continues, at the discretion of a justice court judge.
The ordinance was enacted following the Oct. 31, 2009, deaths of Devon Byrd, 16, and Wade White, 18, in an explosion at an unfenced Delphi Oil Inc. tank in southern Forrest County.
In the wake of the teens’ deaths, family and friends pleaded with county supervisors to put an ordinance in place to safeguard the sites to prevent another tragedy.
Delphi contested the ordinance in Forrest County Circuit Court following its passage, arguing the rule pre-empted state regulatory authority.
Forrest County Circuit Court Judge Bob Helfrich ruled in 2012 that the ordinance was legal, and the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his decision in June after Delphi appealed.
BEFORE YOU GO…
… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.
If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.Click for more info