VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Day 54 of the Gulf Oil Spill brings more news about the severityof the situation. New numbers potentially double original estimatesof the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.
But locally, there is a danger that the crude could snake itsway around Florida and up the coast toward North Carolina.
At Old Dominion University's Center for Coastal PhysicalOceanography, there is a computer simulation of oil leaving theGulf of Mexico that flows right off the coasts of Virginia andNorth Carolina.
Professor Larry Atkinson with ODU's Center has made somepredictions based on the simulation.
"Statistically there will be tar balls off Cape Hatteras. Thechances they will get into Virginia Beach are really really low,"he said.
There is no panic in Virginia Beach, but Emergency Management iskeeping an open eye.
"There are existing plans. The Coast Guard has an areacontingency plan," said Mark Marchbank, who is Virginia Beach'sdeputy coordinator of Emergency Management.
Atkinson says there is no chance any of the thick red and black"gunk" traveling from the Gulf will reach North Carolina orVirginia. What we can expect to see are tar balls, which are clumpsof oil residuals that become like floating pieces of asphalt.
Virginia Beach is preparing for that.
"Again, we do not perceive this as a risk. If it does develop,it'll be looked on as a clean up operation. There are certain OSHAstandards to apply in terms of that. We have specialized teams interms of hazmat. We have contractors in the region who deal withhazmat, and they would assess the situation, and take theappropriate protective action," said Marchbank.
Atkinson said that it takes about 45 days to go from Key West toCape Hatteras.
HazMat crews have identified the material on a derailed train in Norfolk as cement. East Princess Anne and Ingleside roads have reopened to traffic.
A portion of Dominion Boulevard in Chesapeake is shut down as part of an emergency closure.
A horse that was reported missing in Elizabeth City has been found dead.