Hurricane Season Looms Over Gulf Cleanup

Strong storms predicted, could enormously disrupt effort
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2010 9:14 AM CDT
This NOAA satellite image taken Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 1:45 PM EDT shows a swirl of clouds in the western Caribbean Sea associated with Tropical Storm Alex.   ((AP Photo/Weather Underground))
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(Newser) – Tropical Storm Alex looks to be steering clear of the Gulf oil spill, barring any last-minute turns, but he brings the shadow of a hurricane season predicted to be busy and violent to bear over the ongoing cleanup operation. A major storm would mean the evacuation of 39,000 people involved in the effort, the removal of BP's containment system from the blown wellhead, and the suspension of drilling for relief wells, reports the AP.

Families devastated economically by the spill have fewer resources to evacuate, the AP notes, but the ecological toll is unknown: Beyond allowing oil to gush freely from the wellhead, a storm surge could fling booms sopping with oil ashore, and drive oil deeper into fragile shoreline areas. "What boom they don't pick up—and there's miles and miles of it, so there's no way they can pick it all up—will end up back in the marsh," says one expert.

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