Mobile, AL has long considered itself a hub of industry, where shipbuilding, chemical manufacturing and other industrial activities can all find a home along the city’s Gulf of Mexico waterfront.
But now, the city has become the center stage of a debate over regulations on the energy sector — in particular, regulations regarding above-ground oil storage tanks. Seven of these storage tank facilities sit along the Mobile River, a January 29 AL.com article reports. These facilities play a sizable role in the local economy, employing some 1,800 Mobile County residents in 2013.
Above-ground storage tanks are typically subject to a number of regulations, from the federal level to the state and local levels. Many of Mobile’s residents, economic developers and businesses have become concerned about how new oil storage tanks will be constructed ever since a planned 32-tank construction project fell through before the Mobile Planning Commission.
The one problem? None of these groups can agree with each other, each wanting to influence Mobile County’s storage tank regulations in their own way, AL.com reports.
Last week, Mobile residents gathered at the commission chambers at Government Plaza, offering their own ideas on above-ground oil storage regulations to a city committee . Their concerns for increased oil storage tanks involve public health, quality of life and safety matters, such as the impact of tank explosions and leaks on residents. Local businesses are, somewhat predictably, concerned with the economic impact of these storage tanks, while environmental groups are seeking to make county regulations stricter on the tanks’ effect on the Mobile River, its fish and the wildlife that depends upon these fish.
Another public meeting took place on Tuesday, February 3. The city committee will eventually make recommendations based on these meetings with residents and other groups to a full planning commission, which will vote on whether or not to change current county storage tank regulations.