Ships In The Gulf Maneuver Around Oil Spill

fromWWNO

An oil slick the size of Jamaica is still causing problems in the Gulf of Mexico, but so far, it's not disrupting shipping routes or activity in the Port of New Orleans. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is monitoring changing weather and water currents as it tries to predict the oil slick's movements.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And in the Gulf of Mexico, cleanup crews are now scrambling to protect the shoreline from Louisiana to Florida in response to the massive oil spill there.

Eileen Fleming of member station WWNO reports on the broader economic damage that could come from the collapse of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

EILEEN FLEMING: So far, oil spewing from a BP well a mile underwater hasn't closed the mouth of the Mississippi River. Vessels have been moving through the Gulf's Southwest Pass to the Port of New Orleans where officials are assured the spill won't be a problem through Thursday.

Gary LaGrange is president of the Port of New Orleans. He's keeping a close eye on what federal officials are saying about where the oil slick is headed.

Mr. GARY LAGRANGE (President, Port of New Orleans): If a port is closed, the leak in the chain of economic development and the movement of commerce is gone to hell in a hand basket, and we simply cannot allow that to happen. This country cannot allow that to happen at this point.

FLEMING: The oil slick is having little effect on oil and gas production in the Gulf itself. Of the 4,000 oil and gas platforms in deep waters up to 200 miles from shore, most are in the Gulf of Mexico.

Minerals management spokesman John Callahan says the Deepwater Horizon disaster has barely caused a blip in production.

Mr. JOHN CALLAHAN (Spokesman, Minerals Management Service): There's been a very small handful of natural gas rigs that have voluntarily decided to shut in - which means cease production - due to the Deepwater Horizon accident. But there hasn't been a great impact on oil or gas production in the Gulf so far.

FLEMING: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is monitoring constantly changing weather and water currents as it tries to predict the oil slick's movements.

For NPR News, I'm Eileen Fleming in New Orleans.

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