Public hears latest on oil spill response efforts

By Jessica Bowman - email <>

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - An update on oil spill response operations was given to the public Saturday in Ocean Springs. Representatives from six different agencies made up a panel at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center. The panel discussed many topics some of which included subsurface oil monitoring and where oil is currently washing ashore in South Mississippi.

At sea, efforts to permanently plug the Deepwater Horizon continue, while on land, others focus on the remnants of what the oil spill has caused.

Elizabeth Babaian-Kibala said, "Beach cleanup continues. We have our surveyors continue to survey the beach for tar balls. As far as operations in Hancock County we continue to have night operations to clean the beaches for tar balls. As for Harrison County we clean them during the day.

Jackson County has been clean of tar balls for several weeks according to BP Representative Elizabeth Babaian-Kibala. But, she re-assures the public crews continue monitoring to keep the beaches clean. Kibala said right now the main project the company is focusing on is efforts to keep the barrier islands tar free.

"There's a very comprehensive plan put together for these islands. And the plan includes once we have our 300 plus workers on these islands we have emergency response for them. We have shelter, we have proper food for them, we have air conditioning and just a way to get them their and back," said Kibala.

During the meeting Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Representative Nick Gatian also took center stage discussing what is being done when it comes to testing the waters.

Nick Gatian said, "77 sites along the Mississippi Gulf Coast where we collected approximately 180 samples to set base line standards."

Those numbers continue to change as oil is removed from the water. Bottom line, representatives want the people of South Mississippi to know one thing.

BP Representative said, "You may see some of our operations change, some grow and shrink but we are not going anywhere.

Although oil is not washing ashore like it was in previous months, efforts to return the Gulf and our beaches back to pre-oil spill conditions continue.

The public had an opportunity to voice their concerns and ask questions at the end of the meeting.

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