Search for submerged oil needed in Mississippi Sound


Is there oil still submerged in the Mississippi Sound? No one knows for sure. But a new program that is about to start should let all of us know whether there is oil under the surface or on the bottom of the Mississippi Sound.

Nearly 50 vessels are being assigned to work grids that are four square miles each to search for oil. The vessels will be dropping and dragging weighted lines covered in sorbent boom along the bottom of the sound. The crews will also take water samples for testing.

We think this plan to systemically search the Mississippi Sound for oil is a good one. There have been a lot of concerns that much of the oil that spewed from the BP well is still somewhere out there.

Just this week some Georgia scientist said their analysis shows that as much as 80 percent of the oil still lurks under the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. All of this confusion is making it hard for our seafood industry to recover. Across the nation some restaurants have decided not to serve seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. Just recently a national magazine warned its readers not to eat Gulf seafood.

For our seafood industry to recover, this testing of the Mississippi Sound is vital. And if oil is found on the bottom of the sound, then we must find ways to clean it up. If oil is not found, then we must find ways to spread the word that our seafood is safe and good to eat. Until this uncertainty is removed, there will always be a cloud over whether the seafood coming from the Mississippi Sound is safe.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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