Oil intrusion reaches Long Beach Harbor - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil intrusion reaches Long Beach Harbor


By Steve Phillips – bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Countless oil patties continue washing ashore along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As expected, the globs of oil by-product are moving westward, putting more clean-up crews to work along the beach.

The ongoing intrusion of oil patties also prompted a shutdown at the Long Beach Harbor, which is now closed to recreational boaters.

Wednesday's stormy weather had a major impact on both the oil washing ashore and the ongoing efforts to clean it up.

Clean-up crews stayed busy early Wednesday morning, but were pulled back once the heavy rains and afternoon storms hit. Strong winds and stirred-up surf are to blame for depositing some sizeable tar patties at the Long Beach Harbor.

Clean-up crews in full haz-mat gear worked to collect sticky globs of oil patties washing onto the rock jetties along the eastern side of Long Beach Harbor on Wednesday morning. They used rakes to corral the gooey mess and dip nets to scoop the patties from the angry surf.

"Everyone who's out here, everyone who's geared up in these suits, everyone has been through a 40 hour hazardous material training. So everyone is well prepared, well trained to be out here cleaning this up," said Jonathan Evans with the U.S. Coast Guard.

The ugly mess began washing ashore late Tuesday night.

"Got a call actually from a fisherman out here who saw it rolling up. Notified us. We got down and started deploying our boom at the entrance of the harbor about midnight to close off the harbor. As the sun came up this morning, we saw it. It was big globs of mousse looking oil," said Long Beach harbormaster, Michael White.

Workers battled the wind in setting up a "drop zone" for the plastic bags of oily mess.

"It's a collection zone for all the hazardous material they've gathered. They've set it up and put the drums on it cause they don't want the wind to take away the tarp. But that's where they're collecting the bags and putting them on there," Evans explained.

The Long Beach Harbor is surrounded with hundreds of yards of orange, protective boom.  But that boom is virtually useless in the strong winds and stirred-up surf.

"Five thousand feet wrapped around the harbor. And it either went over the top or underneath, but somehow it made it through it," said White.

The harbormaster says even though he expected the oil's arrival, it's still disappointing.

"We knew it was coming. It's just sad to see it come.  There's nothing you can do. You know, I don't know how you can stop it. But we tried. And we saw what happened," said White.

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