Holloway: Protective measures are being taken

Protective booms designed to keep oil from reaching shorelines are expected to be positioned along Biloxi Bay, the Bay of St. Louis and around barrier islands in an effort to repel oil approaching from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Emergency managers reported this morning that BP and US Environmental, its lead contractor, have begun boom efforts for the Biloxi Bay and Bay of St. Louis, along with the Pascagoula River. Booms also are being positited along the barrier islands, 12 miles off shore.

The bay areas will be gated so that commercial vessel traffic can pass through, emergency managers said. Cleaning of vessels and decontamination will be addressed for those vessels that have passed through spill areas. Weather is impacting boom efforts around the barrier islands.

Meantime, on the city level, members of the Biloxi Fire Department returned the city’s fire boat from an East Biloxi fire station to its slip at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and firefighters trailered 1,000 feet of protective boom for quick deployment today, but Mayor A.J. Holloway said he’s aware the city plays a support role to federal and state agencies in preparing for any oil threatening shorelines.

“A hurricane, we know what to tell people when it comes to preparation,” Holloway said. “Something like this, it’s like a foot of snow falling in Biloxi tomorrow. We don’t have snow plows, but steps are being taken to prepare.”

Holloway said his office has been in contact with by the Department of Homeland Security twice in three days. “They’re working with the Coast Guard and the state agencies in Mississippi and Louisiana,” the mayor said. “That’s the first line of response for the time being.”

Biloxi Port Division Manager Frankie Duggan said private contractors were at Point Cadet Marina this morning unloading oil booms from tractor-trailers and onto 35-foot boats for deployment.

In addition to having the city’s 27-foot fire boat and other marine assets in a position to respond on short notice, emergency management personnel last week notified beach vendors in Biloxi to immediately notify authorities if any distressed or stranded birds or sea turtles are spotted along the waterfront.

News and notes

Boom areas: To see the areas where booms will be located, click here.

Stranding hotline: Anyone seeing stranded marine mammals or sea turtles should call the Stranding Hotline at 1-888-806-1674. Callers to the recorded line should be prepared to leave their name, contact information, and location and general size of the species.

Oil spill map: To see a USA Today map showing an animated track of the spill,
click here.

Path forecast: To see the forecast, as projected in a map created by NOAA on Tuesday, click here.