Streams

East Coast States Concerned About BP Oil

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Concerned that oil from the BP spill could reach the East Coast, a group of U.S. Senators from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other eastern states want to coordinate preparedness among state and federal officials.

REPORTER: New York Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer along with 20 colleagues have written a letter to relevant federal agencies. They want long-term scientific projections about how communities might be affected if oil, now in the Gulf of Mexico, gets caught up in what's known as the loop current, which stretches around Florida.

SPEER: Once the oil gets into that current, it can really travel quite rapidly, and while it's likely to go off into the Atlantic, we certainly can't rule out little eddies or other current anomalies carrying it closer to our shores.

REPORTER: That's Lisa Speer, an oceans expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council. She says the oil would probably only make it as far as Cape Hatteras, North Carolina before veering off to the East. Still, she says the fishing industry up and down the coast is likely to be affected. That's because the Gulf of Mexico is an important breeding ground for a variety of species that migrate up the East Coast, like bluefin tuna.

SPEER: And right now the larvae and eggs of those fish are swimming around in what is likely to be a lot of contaminated water.

REPORTER: The Northeastern senators emphasize that the spill does not pose an imminent threat to East Coast beaches. But the NRDC's Lisa Speer says it is possible that tar balls or other forms of weathered oil could show up on the shoreline at some point in the future.

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