The Gulf Oil Spill and the Chesapeake Bay
| 06.30.2010 | 09:49:53 | Views: 4771 | ID:
June 2010: According to the Baltimore Sun though there are initial response plans for cooperation, currently, there is no specific emergency response system for the Chesapeake Bay should there be an accident from an oil spill. William C. Boicourt from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science at Horn Point told the Sun, "There is no functioning [emergency response] system on the Bay in the terms of what we can call operational." Officials with the Coast Guard did tell the Sun there are contingency efforts in coordination with federal, state and local officials to work with the "party responsible" for the accident who is ultimately in charge of cleanup efforts.
In an interview with the Sun, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Michael J. DaPonte explained the primary role of the Coast Guard, if there were an oil spill resulting from an accident with a tanker, would be to assist because the agency "does not jump to the response - it's the responsible party that has to do that."To help communities around the Bay, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation released a document detailing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its relevance to the Chesapeake. In the document, the CBF said chances of oil hitting the Bay's beaches is "very unlikely" because of oceanic currents, but that the economic impacts have already been felt due to a moratorium on oyster and shrimp harvesting. The foundation went onto say that it would continue to monitor the spill "at least 60 days after the oil leak has stopped," and that should any tar balls reach the East Coast, "CBF volunteers would be coastal trash pick-up prior to tar ball landing. Removing trash first eases cleanup and lessens the amount of oily waste." Additionally, the Maryland Department of the Environment released a detail showing the oceanic currents and the location of the spill. The agency wrote "If there are any impacts in Maryland waters, it would most likely be in the form of heavily weathered tar balls and possibly emulsified oil (oil water slurry). ... MDE's Emergency Response Division responds and cleans up over 400 oil spills a year. Most are small spills associated with highway transportation incidents ... [but] the April, 2000 pipeline rupture at the Chalk Point Power Plant ... released over 126,000 gallons of oil and impacted wetlands and beaches in the Patuxent River." Furthermore, Virginia's College of William and Mary has posted their own set of FAQs concerning VA residents and the potential impacts and response measures needed in the event of oil reaching the Eastern Shore beaches. The College outlines the federal, state and local government response hierarchy which would be specifically led by the Coast Guard. The local Bay Blog has an extensive list of community, government and agency resources, links and stories on the Gulf oil spill and its relation to the Chesapeake.
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