Officials meet to discuss oil spill preparedness
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CHAPEL HILL- Scientists at UNC Chapel Hill say the odds of oil from the Deep Horizon Spill reaching our coast are very slim, but state leaders are working to be ready just in case.
On Thursday, more than 100 public health officials and emergency personnel from around North Carolina came together in a forum to discuss preparedness plans.
"They're hoping and praying,” said Joe Tullos, a former New Orleans resident and owner of Gulf Rim Restaurant in Hillsborough.
He shared stories from fishermen in his native Louisiana. Tullos knows what could happen if oil from the spill reaches the North Carolina coast.
"It's a real emotional issue for everybody," he said. "We have a proud fishing heritage in North Carolina. If this were to happen here, what the outflow would be and how it affects the psyche of your state.”
The state has a plan in place led by the U.S. Coast Guard, but the Gillings School of Global Public Health hosted a forum to bring together public health and emergency officials with the goal of clearly defining roles should we face a similar cleanup.
"We have hurricanes, we have ice storms, we have flooding. From all those experiences we know ahead of time from those experiences we need to be prepared for oil spills,” said Bill Gentry with the Gillings School.
Dr. Rick Luettich with UNC Marine Sciences agreed it was important to be prepared, but he had good news about the likelihood of oil reaching our beaches.
"It's very, very small. We were very fortunate that some of the currents that protect the Gulf and the east coast were actually broken,” Luettich said.
That's a relief for Tullos, who worries everyday for his family on the Gulf.
"This has been a slow bleed, everyday somebody's waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Tullos said.