Port of Mobile officials remain in close contact with state and federal response authorities as oil migrates eastward and impacts Alabama's coastline. Alabama State Port Authority officials worked with the U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, the state's environmental agency, and BP to affect a safe and responsible plan to handle vessel traffic in the event heavier oil appeared at anchorage or the entrance to the federal channel.
Commercial vessel traffic following protocols for self inspection and reporting will continue to transit the Port of Mobile. The USCG Protocol Plan established an offshore vessel decontamination site at the seaport's anchorage located at 30° 04N 088° 04W. An USCG Pollution Investigator is stationed onboard the decontamination vessel to validate compliance prior to port entry. Lyons contends contingency plans are necessary to not only abate the unnecessary spread of oil, but to keep commerce flowing. "Our shippers depend heavily on reliable supply chains to guarantee production and maintain jobs. In the aftermath of a devastating global recession and with economic uncertainty in our local fisheries and tourism industries, we just do not have the luxury of closing seaports. We've taken every precaution to ensure this does not happen."
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.