Gulf oil spill unlikely to hurt Ga. coast

Monday, May 24, 2010 12:39 PM
Last updated 9:29 PM
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Georgia's coastline and the critical swath of estuaries it protects are unlikely to face direct impacts from the broadening Gulf oil spill.

"It's a long shot-and it would take the perfect storm of circumstances for oil to end up all the way on Georgia's coast," said marine biologist Spud Woodward, director of Georgia's Coastal Resources Division. "But we are definitely watching it."

As millions of gallons oil continue to flow from the well that exploded April 20 off the Louisiana coast, concerns are mounting that the slick could be pushed by the Gulf of Mexico's loop currents into the Atlantic Ocean's Gulf Stream.

Georgia's 100-mile-long coast, with 400,000 acres of estuaries, is 60 to 70 miles from the Gulf Stream, Woodward said, and it would require a rare and unlucky combination of sustained easterly winds to push any pollutants so far inland.

"We do occasionally have those winds, so we don't put it out of the realm of possibility," he said. "But it would require a huge volume of oil and a heck of a coincidence."

State officials are continuing to monitor the disaster-just in case.

"We're definitely watching it, and getting daily updates with satellite imagery" he said. "We've already written a briefing document for the DNR commissioner and had some conference calls with the Coast Guard."

Georgia's coast includes about one-third of the remaining estuaries in the eastern U.S. Those marshes serve as a nursery for marine life, both inshore and offshore. Estuaries also help filter pollution from river basins that drain much of the state.

In the Gulf, the spill's impact now stretches across 150 miles, from Dauphin Island, Ala. to Grand Isle, La., according to The Associated Press.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com

GEORGIA ESTUARIES

What is an estuary? The part of the lower course of a river where the current meets the sea's tide. It is also an arm of the sea that extends inland to meet the mouth of a river.

Acreage: 400,000, with 2,700 miles of creeks and channels

Rivers: Savannah, Ogeechee, Satilla, St. Marys and Altamaha

Purposes: incubator for marine life; buffer to hurricanes

Threats: pollution from inland cities, silt, development, disease

Commercial uses: blue crabs, shrimp, shellfish

Recreational uses: boating, sportfishing, tourism

Source: Georgia Department of Natural Resources

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TrukinRanger
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TrukinRanger 05/24/10 - 05:56 pm
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Are you kidding?? Have the
Unpublished

Are you kidding?? Have the writers of this article looked at a map?

Nat the Cat
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Nat the Cat 05/24/10 - 07:07 pm
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I am going on record now to

I am going on record now to say that this article, IMHO, is completely [DEAD], wrong, and that the ODDS are that Florida and Georgia's eastern Coastal Barrier Islands WILL see an impact from this Spill. The severity of the impact will be determined by the length of time that the Spill is allowed to continue by our Federal Government. And the Oil will naturally flow around the Keys and up the Eastern Seaboard. It's not going to take an extraordinary coincidence for this to happen.
Spud says it would be "rare and unlucky."
Spud appears to be "twice baked!"

ZenoElia
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ZenoElia 05/25/10 - 03:57 am
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Nat, you are absolutely

Nat, you are absolutely correct...gulf stream will flow it's normal route and eventually will show up here...this disaster is beyond our scope right now but given time, will affect over half the coastal estuaraires along the entire east coast. The oil is not simply floating but suspended in natural flows, underwater streams, rivers within the sea, and will follow the path of least resistance, namely the natural flows..until we see it, we won't prepare for it and by then it will be too late.

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