Menendez Hosts NJ Oil Spill Preparedness Meeting with Coast Guard and NOAA

Menendez Hosts NJ Oil Spill Preparedness Meeting with Coast Guard and NOAA

Washington - Today, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) convened a meeting to discuss New Jersey's oil spill preparedness with officials from the Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with five other members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation - Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ-6), Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12), Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-13) and Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ-7).

With Jersey Shore communities expressing increasing concern over prediction models that have shown that the BP oil spill is likely to enter the Atlantic Ocean, the primary purpose of the meeting was to ascertain the current probability of oil hitting the Jersey Shore and whether the federal and state response agencies are fully prepared and coordinated for the worst case scenario. In the meeting, the Members of Congress were told the following by the federal agencies:

  • Oil from the BP spill has yet to reach the Gulf's Loop Current, which would carry it into the Atlantic.
  • The federal government does not believe that significant quantities of oil will reach the Jersey Shore under current conditions, but noted that the introduction of severe weather - such as a hurricane - could alter those predictions.
  • The federal government believes New Jersey would have a four month warning period between the time that oil entered the Loop Current and when tar balls might wash on to the Jersey Shore.
  • The Coast Guard, in response to a direct question from Senator Menendez, said that it is fully prepared for the possibility of oil reaching New Jersey.

Menendez released the following statement:

"We've heard from residents, business owners and officials along the Jersey Shore who are increasingly concerned that the BP spill will reach us. It was important to get the latest science-based information about where the oil is predicted to go and to be able to ask directly about our level of preparedness in the event that the oil enters the Atlantic. The federal scientists told us that, as of today, our threat remains low, and the Coast Guard told us that it is fully prepared. We were also told that factors like hurricanes could quickly change these predictions, which is why we cannot keep our eye off of this situation. I plan to continue my contact with the Coast Guard and NOAA until we know that the threat is fully gone."