Gulf oil spill could reach Grand Strand

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Chandi Lowry - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Tar balls could be washing up onto the shores of Grand Strand, according to a new study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  The study shows the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could affect the east coast sooner than expected.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control, the United States Coast Guard and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce are coming up with plans in case that happens.

The study displayed the oil leak slipping into the Gulf Stream's loop current and ending up in the Carolinas.

Coastal Carolina University Professor of marine and wetland studies, Paul Gayes says the spill may not have the same devastating effects it's having in the gulf at this time.

"You have a very dense concentration in the gulf right now and you are seeing the devastation occurring with that," Gayes said.  "Being so far removed those effects might be minimized so oil may not track exactly with the water mass and it's also being so far traveled it might be in quite a different condition than you are seeing in the gulf."

But the spill could still creep into the area and that is why Brad Dean with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce says they are ready to alert visitors who have plans to vacation in the Grand Strand.

"We want to make sure we are prepared to provide accurate and timely information not just telling them but showing them with photos videos and other information and even providing real live time reports from captains and oceanographers who are out in the ocean studying this," Dean said.

Dean also says it is important to keep visitors up to date with what is going on.  Otherwise it could really hurt Myrtle Beach's tourism industry.

The area Recovery Council is doing what they can as well to keep the local economy on the upswing if the oil reaches the Grand Strand.

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