MDEQ: Oil sheen may hit Petit Bois, Horn islands Friday - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

MDEQ: Oil sheen may hit Petit Bois, Horn islands Friday

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A patch of oil sheen that has been migrating to the northwest could impact Petit Bois Island, and perhaps Horn Island by Friday afternoon. That's according to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, which has been monitoring the sheen.

Thursday morning, MDEQ staff flew over the oil, which is about 2.1 miles due south of Petit Bois Island. The good news, they say, is that the sheen is decreasing in size through evaporation and vessels skimming the water.

The bad news is that some of the clear substance is still expected to impact Mississippi's barrier islands. Patches of small tar balls and very weathered, degraded oil are behind that sheen, about eight to ten 10 miles south of the island, and may also make landfall.

The MDEQ said Vessels of Opportunity and BP contractors are currently on the scene working to break up the sheen and absorb as much as possible.

When oil sheen reaches a shoreline, it typically evaporates, which is what is expected to happen in this case. The patches of tar balls and weathered oil are being skimmed and corralled to keep them out of the passes and out of the Mississippi Sound. Skimming is used to remove streams of emulsified oil, tar balls, and tar patties.

Currently three task forces are focused on this activity. One task force is working the cut between Petit Bois and Horn Island and south, a second task force is on the cut between Petit Bois and Dauphin Island and south, and a third is south of the islands focusing on heavier oil.

MDEQ said there were approximately 540 Vessels of Opportunity doing tasks Thursday, including Sentinel Duty in which boat owners patrol the passes into the Mississippi Sound and the areas southward to observe and to report any materials. Some boat owners are working boom patrol closer to shore, and others are about 10 miles south of the Barrier Islands with pads and boom.

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