Top elected officials from Galveston, Brazoria and Harris counties were joined by regional port representatives, the coast guard and the Texas General Land Office at the Galveston County Courthouse. They discussed what steps have been taken and are being considered in response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill off the coast of Louisiana. All were confident that the slick will not be moving to the west. Richard Arnhart is the regional director of oil spill prevention and response with the Texas General Land Office.
“We’ve had past events as far as tar balls are concerned, and that’s what we would expect when and if we do have an oiling along our Texas coast, it would come in the form of a tar ball. So, this isn’t our first rodeo with tar balls.”
Captain Mark Woodring with the U.S. Coast Guard says he’s been having to field some questions and concerns from coastal residents who have seen tar balls in the water.
“Yes, there have been tar balls out there. Yes, we’re being more aware of them. Is it anything unusual? Absolutely not, for this time of year. Now, each one of those I will tell you, we sample. We send those off to the lab to be fingerprinted, to try to determine what the source is. Absolutely none of those have come back being related to the Deepwater Horizon case.”
Seafood lovers will not have to change their eating habits, according to Curt Coopman with the Galveston County Health District.
“At this time, there are no recommended advisories as far as seafood consumption, or anything from this area, and the fisheries that have been closed have not extended to this area, so we’ll be constantly in contact with them, and if that changes of course, we’ll release that information.”
Closer to Houston, there have not been any evidence of ships entering the Port of Houston that’s had any signs of the oil spill. Port of Houston chairman Jim Edmonds says the commerce and shipping lanes have not changed.
“The Port Authority has an emergency response committee over the 25 mile span from the San Jacinto monument to the Turning Basin. This committee has been around for a long time and unfortunately, it’s had a fair amount of activity in the last few years because of hurricane activity, but we know that it works. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that Texas is spared from this disaster.”
Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough says they’re ready to use booms to prevent any oil from reaching the coast.
“I guess Galveston Island is the boom for Harris County, uh (laughter) but yes, the plan does call for booming, and obviously there’s thousands of miles of booming already going on over in the affected area. It will certainly be employed if collectively, the coast guard and all the experts deem it necessary.”
Yarbrough says they have not seen any negative impact.