In the port community's daily afternoon briefing, the Harbormaster, Captain Terry Gilbreath advised, "The news media and the community at large is reacting to the NOAA land fall projections, and unfortunately it is leading to speculation that the port and its shipping lanes are closing. Nothing could be further from the truth."
Commercial vessel traffic will continue to transit the Port of Mobile following protocols for self inspection and reporting established by the Port Authority and the USCG Maritime Transportation System Recovery Unit (MTSRU) in Mobile. The Protocol Plan has established an offshore vessel decontamination site at the Port of Mobile's anchorage located at 30° 04N 088° 04W. The MTSRU has also advised that an USCG Pollution Investigator is onboard the decontamination vessel to inspect inbound vessels and validate compliance prior to port entry. Vessels inbound to the Port of Mobile continue to skirt the affected spill area.
Lyons noted that Alabama officials have had the good fortune of time to plan for the inevitable oil landfall associated with the DEEPWATER HORIZON incident. "BP, federal and state authorities have worked on an aggressive plan to ensure we handle any contingency that develops from oil in our waters," said Lyons. "Our tourism and fisheries industries are already hurting from this disaster, and we do not need to compound these problems by adversely impacting our manufacturing and transportation industries that heavily rely on trade through the seaport. We will keep our port open to commerce," stated Lyons.
The Port of Mobile is the 9thlargest U.S. seaport in total volume. The Alabama State Port Authority, headquartered in Mobile, Ala., owns and operates the State of Alabama's deepwater port facilities. The Authority's container, general cargo, bulk, and heavy lift terminals have immediate access to two interstate systems, five Class 1 railroads, four-day rail service to Mexico and nearly 15,000 miles of inland waterway connections.