A Slick Response?
An oil spill the size of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is not likely to happen in our waters. Still, the state has a plan—just in case.
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The environmental and financial damages are still being tallied for the millions of gallons of oil that have been released into the Gulf of Mexico since the BP disaster began in April. Could a petroleum disaster of such magnitude happen here? Are we prepared?
There is no oil drilling, or plans for any at this time, off the shore of Delaware, and the area off New Jersey and to the north is protected, so a disaster such as the one that occurred in the gulf is not likely here. Still, no one should be complacent.
Officials in Delaware and surrounding states have seen large spills before. The Delaware River and Bay are home to the fifth-largest port in the United States, as well as the second-largest oil port. Ports on the bay handle 85 percent of the East Coast’s oil imports. That means a large spill could affect the ecosystems of three states and the commerce of the entire Eastern Seaboard.
“The state recognized a long time ago the potential for this to happen,” says Jamie Turner, head of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency. Protocols are in place, he says, as are partnerships with agencies that are in a constant state of preparedness.
There is no standard spill or cleanup. Every situation is different, varying with the type of fuel that spills to conditions of the spill to the location and weather. So there are four levels of emergency, depending on the size, type and spread of the spill. The levels determine who will be called to respond.
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