Local and federal officials are working to make sure that Long Island has a plan should the BP oil spill reach the South Shore.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) requested that both the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begin planning for the worst.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, which occurred on April 20, spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The spill is the worst in U.S. history.
“The threat to U.S. coast lines, fishing, wildlife and our overall environment is massive,” wrote Schumer in a letter to Coast Guard Rear Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr. and Army Corps of Engineers Lieutenant General Van Antwerp. “We must do everything possible to ensure that New York is protected from the effects of this horrible spill.
The potential for the oil to disperse from the Gulf of Mexico into the Gulf Stream currents reaching Long Island beaches has increased, officials said. In addition, reports are predicting for the most severe hurricane season on record. The Atlantic hurricane season started June 1.
Suffolk County Legis. Tom Cilmi (R- Bay Shore) is also urging county officials to implement a plan.
“Should any of the ill effects from the Gulf spill reach our shores, it could be disastrous to our economy and ecology,” Cilmi said. “We need to actively be planning for that eventuality, while hoping that it never occurs.”
Schumer believes that planning ahead and taking the necessary steps will help prepare for the worse-case scenario.
“The earlier we are prepared and the greater the coordination is among local, state and federal agencies, the greater the likelihood that we fend off significant ecological and economic damage to Long Island and New York,” he said.
The Coast Guard’s Long Island Sector Command is working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to create a plan to deal with any pollutants and contamination that may reach Long Island.