CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — A statewide plan being developed to defend sensitive coastal nurseries, nesting areas and marshes against oil spills will concentrate on protecting inlets.
A nearly $145,000 grant from the Texas General Land office will fund the new effort at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (http://bit.ly/19RWjkz ) reported Wednesday.
School researchers, assisted by graduate students, are working on the Texas Tidal Inlet Protection Strategies program. It's part of the National Spill Control School, which has been associated with A&M-Corpus Christi since 1974.
The project will explore and design specific methods to keep oil from entering Texas bays through the state's 21 Gulf passes and inlets, according to Tony Wood, director of the spill control school.
The information should reduce response times by unifying the spill response community, identifying available resources and providing explicit guidelines to address spills and reduce risk to coastal habitat.
"This is not rocket science," Wood said. "It's just good planning. And hopefully we can get it done before we need it."
Some strategies will be easier than others to design, depending on currents, prevailing winds, channel width, commercial and recreational boating traffic and location. Top priorities will be assigned to passes such as the Aransas Channel at Port Aransas and Boliver Pass at Galveston, both of which will involve coordination with port authorities.
The idea is to remove the oil while it's still in the water, which is much easier than removing it from cordgrass shorelines, oyster reefs and mangrove marshes associated with estuaries.
Researchers will examine previous disasters such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill that devastated the Louisiana coast and killed wildlife. Lessons from those spills should help avert the high environmental price compounded by the economic cost to coastal tourism and fishing industries, Wood said.
Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, http://www.caller.com