The governor received a mini-oceanography and spelling lesson this morning before a Homeland Security exercise where he was briefed on the state's capacity to respond to an oil spill and the likelihood of any oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill touching Maryland's coast.
The state keeps 13,000 feet of boom ready to be deployed in hurry should a ship run aground or a pipe burst. Most of it is designed for containing spills in the relatively calm Chesapeake Bay waters – not the ocean, said Shari T. Wilson, Maryland's Secretary of the Environment. There's no oil drilling in Maryland, so a Gulf-style hemorrhaging from a ruptured well isn't a problem here.
It's unlikely that the oil off the coast of Louisiana will reach Maryland, said Robert Summers, the deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment. (Baltimore Sun reporter Frank Roylance wrote about that here.)
Gov. Martin O'Malley mused about whether it would be possible to use the boom to barricade the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay should a spill occur nearby. "Is it fanciful to think we could close off the mouth of the Bay?" O'Malley asked.
The answer: It is not a possibility. The state does not have enough boom to close the mouth of the Bay and commercial shipping would be interrupted.
O'Malley also wanted to be clear on the technology, and asked a roomful of assembled officials to spell "boom."
Wilson provided the answer. "B. O. O. M."