Residents will have time to prepare

Gulf Oil Spill

Responders hope calmer seas today will allow them to disperse and skim off oil that continues to pump into the Gulf of Mexico from the destroyed Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

British Petroleum also hoped to place the first of three containment units over leaks in 5,000 feet of pipe that crimped and twisted when the oil rig sank April 22 following an explosion.

The Coast Guard assured local officials Monday that Coast residents will have 72 hours to 96 hours notice before any oil hits the Mississippi coastline. The latest trajectories from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the oil remaining offshore through May 4.

Local officials from southern Mississippi and Louisiana heard from President Barack Obama during a conference call early Monday afternoon, Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel told the Sun Herald.

Stopping the oil, the president said, is the government’s first priority, but he added, according to Schloegel, “that may take awhile based on what we’ve seen so far.”

Failing shut off, the president said, the federal government will work to minimize pollution and, lastly, to involve locals in any cleanup.

In a news conference later in the afternoon, BP said it will try tomorrow to place the first of three containment units over leaks in the damaged pipe connected to the oil wellhead. The oil would be trapped in the unit, then piped to a tanker. Containment units are being built for each of three leaks. BP hopes to have all three units placed within the week.

However, because the damaged pipe sits 5,000 feet below the surface, technological obstacles could thwart the effort. U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., believes the oil company might do better with rubber fuel bladders manufactured in Picayune. Taylor said the bladders, the size of a two-story apartment building, will hold 400,000 gallons of oil and would be easier to maneuver at sea than the steel containment units.

He said Monday that he has put the manufacturer in touch with BP.
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