Oil spill may have local impact

Published 8:37 pm Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Many Alabamians have been keeping an eye on recent developments of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, including several people around Crenshaw County.

Because of the importance of beach traffic to the local economy, the situation has the potential to have local impact.

Robyn Snellgrove, president and CEO of the Crenshaw County Economic and Industrial Development Authority, said that on an average day, the intersection of highways 10/331 and 29 in Luverne sees about 12,600 vehicles.

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“That’s just a normal day,” Snellgrove said. “That’s below what we see on Fridays and weekends between Spring Break and Labor Day.”

“We’re dependent on beach traffic,” she added.

Probate judge Jim Perdue, who is also involved in economic development, agreed.

“The motor traffic through here has a huge impact on the local economy,” he said. “People travel through here and stop for gas, fast food, restaurants, hotels and things like that.”

“If people don’t come through here, it will have an adverse effect as a result of sales tax,” Perdue added.

According to the latest information from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, recent winds have caused the oil slick to move toward barrier islands in Mississippi and Alabama, along with moving west along the Florida Panhandle.

NOAA reports that coastal areas between Dauphin Island and Freeport may continue to experience oil coming ashore during the next few days.

So far, BP has been collecting oil from the rig site via the “top hat” device for the last five days.

Collection numbers have increased to nearly 15,000 barrels per day.

“We’re just beginning to see the impact on our beaches,” Perdue said. “I think we’ll probably know just how bad it’s going to get by Labor Day.”