Boaters beware: Oil booms pose hidden danger - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Boaters beware: Oil booms pose hidden danger

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of yards of protective booms surround the Singing River Yacht Club in Pascagoula.  It's a barrier that will save the surrounding wetlands and estuaries from potential contamination. 

But the booms that offer protection can also harm, especially if they're struck by boaters traveling at high speeds.  

"The first danger is the people that hit that boom. They have a great possibility of being ejected from the boat," said Sgt. Doug Adams with the Pascagoula Police Department. "A lot of adults don't wear their life jackets. You hit that at 35 mph, you're going to stop instantly. Then it's going to damage the motor on your boat." 

Many boaters we talked to think the booms are simply floating balloons on the water. But they actually extend 18 inches to two feet into the water, and are held down with ropes and weights.  

Ouida Parker has called Wiggins Bayou home for more that 20 years.  She and her neighbors love the water and boating, and she is glad to be armed with this new knowledge about the potential danger.  

"If you don't know the problems, there could be a possibility of an accident," Parker said. 

And the possibility has grown tremendously in the past week, because Adams said the booms are everywhere now.  

"We've got them in the marshes, at the bayous, around the islands and as you can see here at Singing River Yacht Club, we've got them all around this area. So folks are not used to things obstructing the waterways like they are right now." 

Those obstructions will be around for quite some time, as long as the huge oil spill in the Gulf poses a threat. 

So far, officials say more that 174,000 feet of boom has been placed in the water of Jackson County, stretching from Moss Point to Ocean Springs.  Even more will be laid down in coming days.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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