With oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill now reaching major ocean currents, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday to assess the threat to the Chesapeake Bay and the waters off Maryland.
"The immediate impact on the communities closest to the spill is obvious," the Maryland Democrat wrote in a letter to NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. "But my constituents are also asking – will they see oil on the beaches of Ocean City? Will the spill impact the Chesapeake Bay – which is already under great stress? This would affect the Bay and the jobs of people who work on the Bay. It would also affect our cultural identity."
Scientists expect the Loop Current to carry oil from the spill around Florida to the Gulf Stream, which follows the Eastern Seaboard north to Cape Hatteras, N.C., and then heads northeast into the open ocean. The worst Maryland is likely to see from the spill, they say, are a few sandy tar balls that pose little hazard to humans as they wash ashore.
Mikulski has cosponsored legislation that would curb new offshore drilling and require BP to reimburse the federal government for funds spent on spill cleanup. Gov. Martin O'Malley also raised the topic Wednesday, at the state's annual hurricane preparedness drill at the State House.