Plans in place to protect Galveston from oil

June 1, 2010 4:25:38 PM PDT
While the oil is still far away from our side of the Gulf of Mexico, it's still anyone's guess what the situation will be like months from now. In Galveston on Tuesday, local officials discussed what kind of response there would be, if that growing spill inches this way. The oil is at least 150 miles away and doesn't appear to be getting much closer, but while people here don't want anyone to be overly concerned, they are already working toward keeping the coastline clean.

There is not any oil on Texas beaches anywhere right now. The message to vacationers is to keep coming.

Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough said, "We were very blessed to have good weather this weekend. We had a very large crowd here for Memorial Day, and we want to encourage people to continue to visit the upper Texas coast."

But there really isn't anything Texas can do to stop the oil from coming either.

"We are prepared," said Captain Mark Woodring with the US Coast Guard. "We do have the advantage of having time on our side."

At some point this summer, leaders here suspect we will get tar balls washing up on Texas beaches from the BP spill. But tar balls aren't necessarily anything new on our beaches.

Richard Arnhardt with the Texas General Land Office said, "This isn't our first rodeo with tar balls."

Since the spill on April 20, the oil sheen has morphed shape and spread out. Its motion recently is more towards Florida than Galveston. But that isn't stopping the Texas General Land Office from putting out booms in five low spots along the Bolivar peninsula.

They're trying to protect the marshes. The idea is to stop the oil on the beaches before it gets into the marshes, because it's so much more difficult to get the oil out of the marsh than it is to stop it on the beach.

Craig Kartye with the Texas General Land Office explained, "It is a lot more difficult to clean oil out of those environments. So experts identify areas like that and prioritize them."

The booms are currently just placed in five locations along the Bolivar peninsula. There are no floating booms in place.


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