Sunday, May 9, 2010

Oil slick's impact could reach Tuscaloosa businesses

Oil slick's impact could reach Tuscaloosa businesses

Michelle Lepianka Carter / The Tuscaloosa News

Lee Bell, executive chef at Chuck's Fish on Greensboro Avenue in Tuscaloosa, checks a box of fresh tuna after it was delivered from Destin, Fla., on Wednesday.
By Patrick Rupinski Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 11:27 p.m.
The massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, which continues to spread, has businesses and consumers well beyond the coast worried.

The oil slick could impact the availability of fresh Gulf seafood at West Ala-
bama restaurants and supermarkets. And industries in the Tuscaloosa area that use the port at Mobile and the Intercoastal Waterway for shipping could be affected if the slick curtails the movement of cargo.
So far, no major disruption to commerce in the Tuscaloosa area has been reported. But officials at several businesses said they are keeping a watchful eye on developments in the Gulf.
The oil slick has been growing for more than two weeks, since the April 20 explosion of a deepwater drilling rig about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. Satellite images on Wednesday indicated oil has reached the Mississippi Delta and Chandeleur Islands off the Louisiana coast, and at least one news report indicated the oil might reach parts of the Alabama coast as early as today.
“I would expect it will have an impact. We are trying to assess that,” said Cris Eddings, a partner and manager at Chuck's Fish, a seafood restaurant on Greensboro Avenue in Tuscaloosa.
The restaurant brings in fresh seafood from chartered fishing boats in the Gulf. So far, the restaurant and its two sister restaurants in Birmingham and Destin, Fla., have been able to get their regular supply of seafood from boats fishing outside the oil slick area, he said. 
Today's stories

Oil slick's impact could reach Tuscaloosa businesses

By Patrick Rupinski Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 11:27 p.m.
( page 2 of 3 )

“Future shipments from the Gulf will depend on what limits will be placed on catches and, obviously, the safety of the supply,” Eddings said. “Nothing will be brought in if there are safety concerns. What we pride ourselves on is fresh seafood. Whatever we get will be fresh and safe for our customers.
“If we can't get our normal supply (from the Gulf), we will look elsewhere.”
That could mean buying fish from the East Coast, he said.
The Gulf has long been a major source for the nation's seafood. If catches are curtailed, there will be less seafood available in general, leading to rising prices. The cost of transporting seafood from farther away to Alabama also would add to the cost.
“This came about and knocked us back,” Eddings said. “It is uncharted waters for us.”
At Walter Energy, which operates two underground coal mines near Brookwood, there has been no disruption in coal production or coal shipments, said company spokesman Dennis Hall.
Much of the company's coal is shipped to the Alabama State Docks in Mobile for export to steel mills abroad. Coal is stockpiled at the State Docks until it is loaded on oceangoing vessels.
Alabama's emergency plan calls for keeping at least one shipping lane open into Mobile and requires ships that might have passed through the oil to be cleaned before entering the area. That, however, could cause a backup of ships entering and leaving the port.
Tim Parker, chairman of Parker Towing, a Tuscaloosa-based barge company, said he, too, is watching the situation, and his staff is in daily contact with the Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers, which are working to contain the oil.
Parker Towing is one of the Southeast's largest barge companies, moving coal and other products on the Black Warrior River and southern waterways including the Intercoastal Waterway, a 3,000-mile waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

There is concern that the oil slick could affect the Gulf portion of the Intercoastal Waterway. That could impact shipments of commodities like scrap steel, which come out of Brownsville, Texas; Houston; and New Orleans. The steel is used at plants like Tuscaloosa's Nucor Steel, Parker said.
“Most of the industries are waiting to see what happens,” he said earlier this week.
If shipping on the Intercoastal Waterway were curtailed for a long time, Parker said a contingency would be to use the
Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to reach the Mississippi River and other ports.
The extra distance, however, would increase shipping costs.
Much depends on whether the slick will cause shipping delays and how long those delays last, he said.
One major West Alabama industry that does not anticipate any shipping delays is Mercedes-Benz U.S. International in Vance. The vehicles it exports are shipped from Brunswick, Ga., on the Atlantic coast, said company spokeswoman Felycia Jerald.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep comments free of vulgarity. Your message will be deleted if not.
This thing is vulgar by it's self.