EDITORIAL: Oil ashore

Mississippians who so far have viewed the massive BP oil leak in the Gulf Of Mexico more as a vacation inconvenience than a hit-home disaster should pay close attention to the situation, which includes oil coming ashore in our state for the first time.
Oil was found along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Jackson County during the weekend, and the Sun Herald newspaper in Biloxi said evidence of the drifting crude oil and residue was reported Monday on part of the beach along U.S. Highway 90.
Beach cautions have been issued for parts of Jackson and Harrison counties.
It should be noted that much of the Mississippi coastline remains oil free, but preparations for a larger impact became more energetic Monday under orders from Gov. Haley Barbour.
Barbour, criticized editorially Sunday by the Sun Herald for lack of attention to the developing crisis, said he had made hard requests for more aid from BP and the federal command in charge of the government’s response.
It was BP’s well platform, Deepwater Horizon, that exploded and collapsed in April, opening a gush of crude oil from the well 5,000 feet below the Gulf’s surface. Today is the 70th day of the uncontrolled flow.
The situation has been complicated in recent days by Tropical Storm Alex, which is well west of the Mississippi Coast but could become a hurricane. Its rotation could cause strong waves and wind that push the oil toward Mississippi and generally eastward.
The National Weather Service predicts Alex will make landfall as a hurricane Wednesday between Brownsville, Texas, and Tuxpan de Rodriguez Cano in Mexico but spare BP’s oil collection efforts at its ruptured deep-sea well, Reuters News Service reported Monday afternoon.
It is certain, Barbour said, that more Mississippi waters will be closed to commercial fishing, which is expected to put people out of work and cause a significant economic impact in the seafood industry, wages and tax collections.
The federal government estimates that up to 2.5 million gallons of oil per day are spewing from the damaged well. BP is working on a relief well to stop the flow.
The costs to BP include, but are not limited to, a $20 billion compensation fund it set up under U.S. pressure from the states and the federal government. BP said it has paid out $2.35 billion so far in cleanup and compensation costs.
As happened after Hurricane Katrina, all of Mississippi will be affected by oil-related damage. While a process is in operation to reimburse losses, its benefits have not been fully uniform or smooth.

NEMS Daily Journal