East Coast Senators Demand Oil Spill Plan

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    President Barack Obama, left, picks up a "tar ball" as LaFourche Parish president Charlotte Randolph, center, and U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, National Incident Commander for the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, look on during a tour of areas impacted by the Gulf Coast oil spill, Friday, May 28, 2010 in Port Fourchon, La.

    It's better to be safe than sorry.

    That's why 22 East Coast senators, representing every state from North Carolina to Maine, along with Georgia, have sent a letter to the Obama Administration asking for a plan to battle the BP oil spill if it should spread to the Atlantic coast,  which many scientists are now starting to fear.

    "In essence, I want a plan, just like we would have an emergency preparedness plan for other purposes," said New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, as he stood on on a Jersey City walkway overlooking New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.

    One example Senator Menendez cited was "the availability of boom should we need to deploy them."

    Computer modeling suggests that if and when the Deepwater Horizon spill gets caught in the Gulf's Loop Current, it will quickly move through the Florida Straits between the Keys and Cuba, and then hug the coast as it moves all the way up to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

    While the Gulf Stream disperses after that, Dr. Alan Blumberg at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. said the eddies that spin off the the Gulf Stream current at that point could easily move the oil close to the Jersey Shore or Long Island -- and with a hurricane, for example, drive the oil ashore.

    The letter co-signed by the 22 Senators is addressed both to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

    The senators want Homeland Security to "immediately begin coordinating with all state emergency preparedness agencies along the Atlantic Coast, providing full information about how best to prepare for managing an oil spill and ensuring that these states are properly equipped for the worst-case scenario," the letter reads.

    From Commerce, they ask NOAA to develop "science-based predictions about the long-term direction of the oil spill and chemical dispersants."

    Among those supporting Menendez and the 21 other senators were Clean Ocean Action, the Jersey Coast Anglers, and the owners of Jenkinson's Boardwalk--a popular seaside destination with arcades, rides and an aquarium--in Pt. Pleasant Beach, N.J.

    Senator Menendez said he has yet to receive a response from the Obama administration.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY