Coast residents learn more about the giant oil spill - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Coast residents learn more about the giant oil spill

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Buck Sutter with NOAA opened Wednesday's forum by telling the crowd, "We're going to be here until the last drop of oil is cleaned up off the beach and however long that takes we're just going to do it." 

About 150 people showed up with questions in hand, hoping for answers.  One of those was Kymmie Nguyen, who was looking for legal answers on how to help her desperate Vietnamese clients.  

"A lot of them are in financial disarray," Nguyen said.  "Their daily expenses or their mortgages, they are behind on their mortgages, they are behind on their boat payments."  

Of all the breakout sessions, the most popular was wildlife and fisheries.  Lots of people in the room asked lots of questions about the health of the Mississippi Sound and the health of our marine life.

One of those was Don Abrams, who was surprised about the answer he got on the use of oil dispersants in the Gulf. 

Abrams was told, "Dispersants are not a seafood safety concern. That's a pretty strong statement and I want to see some more follow up on that." 

Because oil has now been found on Petit Bois Island, Stan Meiburg with the EPA said his agency is ramping up research. 

"We are beginning today to do additional testing in near shore and estuary waters to more fully access the water quality." 

And the Coast Guard's mission is crystal clear on dealing with the spill, according to Commander Bob Brady. 

"As best we can, we're trying to fight it out to sea, away from the shoreline," Brady said. "And the next thing we want to do is keep it off the shoreline."  

Nervous and worried faces filled each room, but some gained comfort from Larry Robinson with the NOAA. 

"I just want to ensure you that we will not stop our efforts to protect the livelihoods of Gulf Coast residents and to mitigate the environmental impact of this spill," Robinson said. 

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium sponsored the three hour forum. Two more are planned using the same format. One is Wednesday from 6pm to 9pm at the Mobile Civic Center.  Another will be held Thursday morning from 9am until noon at the same location in Mobile.

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