Ships try to steer clear of oil spill

A shrimp fishing boat returns to port in Port Fourchon after the commercial fishing industry was shutdown due to spreading oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon platform disaster in Louisiana.

TEXT OF STORY

Stacey Vanek-Smith: Workers in the Gulf of Mexico are rushing to do all they can to contain the massive oil spill this morning taking advantage of calm seas. BP officials told Congress the worst-case scenario for the spill might be worse. We think 5,000 barrels of oil are leaking into the ocean every day. There are worries now that could grow to 60,000 barrels -- 2.5 million gallons a day. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated BP will pay the whole tab:

Robert Gibbs: As I've said and as the president has said, that BP is the responsible party, they're the cause of this spill and they'll pay for everything in the spill.

Estimates put clean-up costs at around $14 billion. Meanwhile, the shipping industry is doing its best to steer around the spill. Marketplace's Eve Troeh has more.


Eve Troeh: Ships in the Gulf have their eye on the Southwest Pass. That's the main channel to the Mississippi River. It's about 95 miles from New Orleans.

Robert Jumonville is director of Cruise and Tourism at the Port of New Orleans. He says crews are on the lookout for that oily sheen on the water.

Robert Jumonville: The pilots and the deepwater ships that are coming in don't even see it. Nothing in the fairways.

Still, the Coast Guard has set up cleaning stations at the mouth of the river. David Mosley is Petty Officer First Class with the U.S. Coast Guard. He says workers are standing by to wash any boats that might stumble through the oil.

David Mosley: At night things can be hard to see, the wind could shift something across the bow of a boat, and they just wouldn't have the change or the opportunity to go around.

If the oil does reach the mouth of the Mississippi, any ship that wants to go up river will have to brave the slick. That will mean lots of hull scrubbing and backed-up water traffic. The Coast Guard expects the Mississippi to stay clear until Thursday. Beyond that, they can't predict.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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