Monday, May 17, 2010

Oil spill threatens already weakened wetlands

by Brad Woodard / 11 News

Crews depart with giant box to help Gulf oil leak
With millions of gallons of oil already in the gulf and massive underwater plumes that could poison and suffocate sea life across the food chain, experts say the damage from the spill could endure for a decade or more. For Galveston, however, the picture isn't quite as bleak.

"There may be some kind of effect coming this way, some little tarballs, but we'd be talking about almost three weeks into the future, which gives it more time to break up. More time to sink," said Peter Davis, chief of the Island's Beach Patrol.

If Davis doesn't seem overly concerned, it's because he's seen it all before.

"I've worked here for almost 30 years, and before that I was on the beach all the time," says Davis. "I remember in the 80s when there was less regulation; there was tar around a lot more."

Long before the Deepwater Horizon explosion, in fact, long before offshore drilling, tarballs were washing up on Texas beaches. The state estimates as much as a million barrels of crude oil leaked into the gulf through natural seepage in just the last year.

Although the coast is clear in Galveston, at least for the moment, some business owners along the seawall worry all the news surrounding the spill with scare off tourists.

"They don't know if there is oil or no oil," says Izzy Wolraich, the owner of four businesses on the Island. "And we know there's no oil.

There're afraid about poisoned fish and dirty water, but there's not a panic yet."

And that's what he fears the most.


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