Gulf Islands National Seashore Officials Ready To Deal With Oil Spill ... If It Washes Ashore

Officials at Gulf Islands National Seashore are readying themselves to deal with an impacts from an oil spill. Aerial photo of Cat Island by USGS.

While it remains to be seen whether oil leaking from an exploratory well drilled deep in the Gulf of Mexico will wash ashore at Gulf Islands National Seashore, officials there are ready to deal with that situation if it arrives.

"It is our information from the Unified Command Team that no oil is forecast to reach the northern Gulf Coast for at least the next five days," the seashore's chief ranger, Clay Jordan, said Monday evening. "Beyond that is really unknown as this time."

While officials monitor the forecast, they're also updating the seashore's "oil response pre-plans and tailoring them based on the specifics of this situation, should we need to implement them," he added.

While it's impossible to say whether the oil spill will reach the seashore, or in what form if it does, crews would be able to respond with mechanical booms or other tools to cope with any oil that did show up, said Chief Ranger Jordan, explaining that the oil could possibly show up as tar balls as opposed to an oil slick.

"We stand ready to do whatever we need to do," he said. "There are a lot of variables that are kind of hard to predict right now. ... A lot really depends on the composition of the oil at the time. There's a number of tools in the bag, and we'll just be ready to work with them."