Delmarva Beaches Safe From Oil Spill

Experts say it's unlikely oil will hit mid-Atlantic shores

By Kelvin Robinson
|  Tuesday, May 25, 2010  |  Updated 12:30 AM EDT
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Delmarva Beaches Safe From Oil Spill

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Oil from that massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico has entered a stream that could carry it up the East Coast, but experts say the mid-Atlantic area is likely in the clear.

A University of Maryland researcher says barring a hurricane or strong storm system,  the oil will likely miss Delmarva beaches.

"The current leaves the continental shelf at about Cape Hatteras [North Carolina] and heads northeast," Jim Carton told The Baltimore Sun.

Carton is the chairman of UMD's Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science. He said most of the continent, north of Cape Hatteras should be safe.

At the same time Carton says the oil could be off the Maryland coast (though out to sea) in fewer than three weeks.

Wes Tunnell Jr., of Texas A&M's Harte Research Institute, said any tar balls that do reach Delmarva beaches will be "weathered." As the spill travels in the stream, tiny life forms in the sea will continually break down the toxic components of crude oil.

Tunnell said the most likely appearance on mid-Atlantic beaches would be sandy tar balls that would do little more than stain your feet and beach towels.

BP said Monday the current technique it's employed to clean up the spill -- a mile-long tube to suck oil from the source of the spill -- is a "new technology, and both its continued operation and its effectiveness in capturing the oil and gas remain uncertain."

The company is planning a "top kill" method, in which it will pack the spill with heavy mud and cement sometime after Wednesday.

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