BILOXI, Miss. — A new long-range government projection that more oil will hit the Mississippi Coast for at least the next few months doesn't surprise Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame. What does surprise him, 74 days into the BP oil disaster, is the lack of preparation and protection.
"As we speak, there is no more protection for the Bay of St. Louis than we had just a couple of weeks after it started, Fillingame said Friday, as he watched BP-contracted boat crews in the bay only beginning preparations for large oceangoing boom that has proved more reliable for stopping oil than the flimsy, ineffective stuff thats been strung along state beaches bays and bayous for months.
A 120-day NOAA model of the oils movement released Friday, conducted only after an irate congressman demanded it, shows an 81 percent to 100 percent probability the area from eastern Louisiana to Pensacola will continue to be hit with oil and tar.
Harrison County Supervisor Kim Savant shares Fillingames frustration, and now believes the lack of preparation and prevention heavy boom, skimmer boats is a decision BP bean counters made.
This is just my opinion, Savant said, but I think a BP corporate decision was made that its cheaper to clean up than to prevent it getting here or detaining it ... Weve made requests like, Lets protect these jetties and rocks, because theyll probably be impossible to clean. The responses are, They can be cleaned. They were cleaned after Exxon Valdez with high-pressure hoses. Well, the oil is not there yet, so why cant we try to protect them?
Fillingame said it appears any prevention is being left to state and local governments.
The time we spend pushing to get things implemented that was not supposed to be our part of this process, he said. We didnt know wed have to get involved in the planning process, or the lack thereof.
From Day 1, they had told us the real battle would be carried to the oil out in the deep water skimmed, picked up, burned, everything humanly possible to stop it, Fillingame said. But as weve watched it progress, hitting the islands, then the beaches, all weve seen is reaction after it hits. We tried to learn from Louisiana, their experience when it started hitting there, but here it looks like impending impact, and were no more ready than we were seven weeks ago.
Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran, who reached the same conclusion many weeks ago that locals were on their own, said her city has gotten a permit for a type of heavy boom, and shes been pitching it to other local governments.
Now, were just having to implore BP to fund it, she said, noting it costs about $180 a foot and Ocean Springs alone needs 12,000 feet.