Air pollution problem in Pascagoula


Concerned citizens in an area of Jackson County have decided to take their life and safety into their own hands. Residents of the Cherokee neighborhood in Pascagoula have joined forces with the Gulf Restoration Network to attempt to resolve ongoing issues with Halter Marine over environmental concerns.
Michael Devine has lived in Pascagoula’s Cherokee Estates neighborhood for more than 20 years, but says he’s a prisoner in his own home. Devine and his neighbors blame nearby VT Halter Marine for what they say is ongoing air pollution. “I can’t stay outside that much. If I start smelling an odor and it gets worse and worse because it’s more like a chemical smell. It was good when we had the barrier between these and I will be honest with you when that roadway got put through there and they cleared so much of that out it became worse.”
Local residents that have been personally affected have now created a group called Cherokee Concerned Citizens group. Cherokee Resident Amy Perez said, “I have lived here since ’91. It is my mother’s house. We had moved back in after the hurricane due to her health to help her and take care of her. Well after she passed, we fought tooth and nail to keep her house because of its sentimental value to us.”
As seen in a story we first brought you in June 2014, residents have continued to express their concerns over what they say is ongoing pollution and now, more than three years later, they contend that air emissions coming from the shipbuilding company continue to violate the company’s permit. Taking matters into their own hands, Cherokee residents have joined forces with the Gulf Restoration Network and are monitoring the shipbuilder from a higher perspective. Coastal Wetland Specialist Scott Eustis said, “Fly a balloon a couple hundred feet in the air to get a better perspective on some of the issues that are coming from Halter Marine. A picture is worth more than a thousand words so if we can capture that in a photograph we can communicate it to one another across the Gulf Coast to help each other out.”
The group hopes the visuals they get will give a clear picture of the true extent of pollution in the area, pointing to initial images which they say shows a plume of pollution from grinding and sand blasting at VT Halter Marine on Wednesday, visuals they plan to present further down the line in an ongoing lawsuit over these environmental concerns.
News 25 has reached out to VT Halter Marine, but were referred to the company’s legal department. News 25 left a message requesting comment from the company on this matter. They have not yet responded to our request.