Oil still in the Gulf, but not as visible as before - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil still in the Gulf, but not as visible as before

By Doug Walker – bio | email

GULF OF MEXICO (WLOX) - One day after oil washed ashore on Mississippi beaches, the crude continues to gush from the Deepwater Horizon site in the Gulf. But efforts to contain the oil and burn it off appear to be getting better. 

The Army National Guard took us on a flight over the Gulf Monday morning, which began with a look at Cat Island, south of Long Beach.  The water was murky, but apparently free of oil. 

Over the Chandeleur Islands, it was a much different look.  Sheens of oil could be clearly seen, perilously close to the shores of the barrier island.  On the way to the Deepwater Horizon site, more sheen could be seen, but no heavy oil. 

The site itself is a massive undertaking.  Oil is being collected and burned, some of it being pumped onto ships.  Obviously, hundreds of millions of gallons have spilled from the Deepwater Horizon site since the accident on April 20th, however, Monday, things seemed to be working much better than they have in the past. 

This was the tenth flight for Col. Lee Smithson with the Army National Guard, and he liked what he saw.   

"Whatever is being done now is being done right, because we're not seeing the heavy oil far away from the rig site as we have in my previous nine trips" 

Despite that seemingly good news, Dr. Bill Walker, the head of the Department of Marine Resources, looked over the site with a wary eye, and offered yet another warning.  

"That material is headed our way," Walked said.   "It's weathered oil and it will degrade a lot more before it reaches our mainland, if in fact ever does. But this is the kind of material that we ought to be skimming." 

Mobile Bay and Dauphin Island appeared to have escaped the latest onslaught of oil.  Horn and Ship Islands, wrapped in boom, were given the all clear by Walker. 

Closer in, oil sheen could be spotted north of Deer Island, near the Point Cadet Marina.  And Walker stepped up his criticism of the efforts to stop the oil from getting on shore.  

"There's just not enough equipment to go around, there's not enough skimmers to meet the needs in the four states that are presently being affected." 

Because of the lack of skimmers, two local companies have been contracted by the state to build several of the specialized boats over the next month.  The first skimmers should be ready by the end of this week. 

Governor Haley Barbour said BP will pick up the tab for building those skimmers.

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