Hurricanes and oil, do they mix?

POSTED: Friday, July 2, 2010 - 3:22pm

UPDATED: Friday, July 2, 2010 - 3:24pm

Hurricane Alex rolled through the southern Gulf of Mexico this week. A LSU professor tells NBC 33 News this storm likely did more harm than good, but tropical weather closer to home could help clean up the spill.

Dr. Ed Overton, Profession Emeritus at LSU's School of Coast and Environment says "energy in the environment from a hurricane will disperse that oil, that is it'll take large mounts of oil and spread it out."

And that's good news for the coast and the clean up "because remember Mother Nature can degrade oil and does degrade oil very quickly. This is a immediately degradable oil," says Dr. Overton.

But there is a catch. The oil has to be far enough off shore to have the best results.

"If you have thick oil that's fairly close to the shoreline," Dr. Overton tells NBC 33 News, "the heavy weather doesn't have a chance to disperse it, it washes it on shore and it will wash it further inland."

And that's just what he expects to see in the wake of Hurricane Alex. "I suspect that what we are seeing there are areas where this is much, the oil is pushed much farther inland," he says.

A direct hit over the site of the spill could help. "If it had come up in the northern gulf, there's a lot of oil off shore it would have spread it out." But Dr. Overton says he's not hoping for that bulls-eye storm until after the leak is stopped. "We are so close to being able to tap the relief wells. I am praying that we can get those relief wells in place before the peak of hurricane season."

And he hopes the storms will stay far away from Louisiana's coastline. "If it’s too close to shore, it's not on shore, its on main street."

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