WASHINGTON, May 17 (Reuters) - The U.S. Coast Guard is preparing for the possibility that tar balls from underwater oil plumes resulting from the Gulf oil spill may reach the coastline of southern Florida, a senior Coast Guard official told a Senate committee on Monday.
“We’ve been watching that very carefully,” said Rear Admiral Peter Neffenger, Deputy National Incident Commander with the Coat Guard.
“We’re preparing for potential impact on the southern Florida coast and impacts around the southern Florida coast,” he told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at a hearing on the oil spill.
He said the oil would likely be in the form of tar balls that are a “little easier to manage.” Neffenger said the Gulf current that would carry the oil plumes to the Florida coast is now about 40 or 50 miles (65-80 km) from the southern edge of the spill. (Reporting by Tom Doggett and Ayesha Rascoe)