Oil spill impacting North Carolina?

Oil spill in water

May 4, 2010 9:00:07 PM PDT
President Barack Obama said Tuesday the federal government is committed to supporting the local economies in the Gulf that will be affected by the oil spill, but some states are now coming up with their own plans of attack.The slick is moving slowly, but it still seems to be heading to Alabama and north Florida in the coming days. Some scientists worry that the slick will get picked up by what's known as the Gulf Loop Current.

The oil spill in the Gulf Coast has grown to roughly the size of Delaware.

In weeks, it could wash up on Miami Beach, then to beaches up the Atlantic Coast including North Carolina.

"What would happen here is very much what's happening down there," said Tracy Skrabal with the NC Coastal Federation.

The difference, says Skrabal, is while North Carolina does have a plan to deal with an oil spill, it doesn't have the experience.

"Because we don't have the infrastructure, nor the oil industry here, I doubt we would be even as prepared as they are," Skrabal said.

Paul Barrington, with the aquarium at Fort Fisher, has agreed to take in oil slicked turtles from the Gulf if need be and only hopes the oil doesn't spread to North Carolina.

"Oil in our estuaries would be devastating," he said. "The impact on coastal shore birds, sea birds, marine mammals could be a devastating problem."

There is also concern about eastern North Carolina's tourism.

David Christopher is a charter fisherman who, before the spill, saw only dollar signs in the possibility of drilling off North Carolina's coast.

"Oil rigs structure in the ocean attracts fish, I was really looking forward to it," he said.

But that was before the spill and now he has concerns.

"I'm worried about it," Christopher said. "What happened in the Gulf shouldn't have happened and it did so."

"I think the conversation is going to get very real in a hurry," Skrabal said. "Definitely in North Carolina, it will shape the conversation.

Some say for anyone who is skeptical of the possibility of the Gulf Stream carrying the oil to North Carolina's coast, needs to remember the red tide event in Gulf Coast in the 1980s that wreaked havoc on the state's coast for a couple months.

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