The Port of Mobile remains open to commercial traffic with no anticipated closures or delays expected from the DEEPWTER HORIZON oil spill. “We absolutely see no reason to close this port or divert traffic,” says James K. Lyons, director and CEO for the Alabama State Port Authority. “In fact, with contingency plans in place to handle vessels in the event heavy oil hits our channel, we do not foresee any reason to close the 9th largest U.S. seaport and further disrupt our economy,” said Lyons.
Port of Mobile officials remain in close contact with state and federal response authorities as oil migrates eastward and impacts Alabama’s coastline. Alabama State Port Authority officials worked with the U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, the state’s environmental agency, and BP to affect a safe and responsible plan to handle vessel traffic in the event heavier oil appeared at anchorage or the entrance to the federal channel.
Commercial vessel traffic following protocols for self inspection and reporting will continue to transit the Port of Mobile. The USCG Protocol Plan established an offshore vessel decontamination site at the seaport’s anchorage located at 30° 04N 088° 04W. An USCG Pollution Investigator is stationed onboard the decontamination vessel to validate compliance prior to port entry. Lyons contends contingency plans are necessary to not only abate the unnecessary spread of oil, but to keep commerce flowing. “Our shippers depend heavily on reliable supply chains to guarantee production and maintain jobs. In the aftermath of a devastating global recession and with economic uncertainty in our local fisheries and tourism industries, we just do not have the luxury of closing seaports. We’ve taken every precaution to ensure this does not happen.”