Emergency officials dealing with oil spill and tropical activity - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Emergency officials dealing with both oil spill and tropical activity

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – As he kept a close eye on some tropical activity in the Caribbean Thursday, Harrison County EOC Director Rupert Lacy was also dealing with a new challenge this hurricane season -- a growing oil slick in the Gulf.

"Anytime we see a batch of clouds get together, we get concerned.  We are working with BP," said Lacy.

Lacy's team has been offering input on BP's Hurricane Response Plan.  He pointed to efforts to deal with BP employees who are from out-of-town and will need shelter.  Plus, there are tons of vehicles and other equipment that must be secured, if severe weather threatens.

"They have defined high areas along the coastal region to stage equipment outside of flood prone areas, and then we know the numbers of people they know of bussing out of here," said Lacy.

Tropical watches and warnings will start earlier this year.  Lacy said BP plans to evacuate its workers five days before coastal residents get their evacuation orders. And he said BP crews are getting extra training to handle any oil that washes ashore after a storm.

"I'm hoping that we don't have emulsified oil," said Lacy.  "But a storm will churn the Gulf up and it will break a lot of this down.  It will kind of run it through that washing machine, washing cycle, and it takes out a lot of that petroleum base."

A BP representative is also stationed full-time at the Emergency Operations Center in Gulfport.

"I'll be here riding out the storm if it does come, to be I guess you could say, a link in a chain for BP to get the damages taken care of and issues dealt with," said Edward Day, a BP liaison.

"We've learned from past storms.  We're just putting our normal emergency plan into action and if it's oil, it's oil.  If it's a hurricane, it's a hurricane," said Lacy.

Lacy says BP's hurricane response plan still needs approval from the Unified Command Center.

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