To date, no oil has reached the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, and according to NOAA, none is expected for at least the next 72 hours. At its closest point, the slick is still approximately 50-60 miles from the western end of our island. See the current NOAA map and forecast here.
Although there has been a report of a suspected underwater plume near the well, the Unified Command at the site has not verified that the plume is actually oil. In any case, it is far off shore and southwest of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach & Ft. Morgan. Local emergency management officials do not consider it an issue .
The Alabama Department of Public Health and Alabama Department of Environmental Management have stated that there is no foreseeable need to close beaches and, short of a drastic change, they have no plans to do so.
An erroneous e-mail was circulated stating that Governor Bob Riley had ordered the beaches closed. That e-mail was false. A press release from the Governor’s office verifying that the beaches ARE open was issued Monday, May 17th. Click here to read the release.
Although NOAA has closed commercial fishing in a limited area of the gulf between the Mississippi River and Pensacola Bay, there is a large area of the gulf still open. Charter boats are leaving Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan every day to fish areas up to 25-30 miles out and in our inshore waters. To view a map of the closed area, go to https://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.
All appropriate protective measures, including oil-absorbing booms, are being placed along beaches, bays, inlets, and sensitive areas in an effort to keep oil from reaching Alabama’s shoreline. National, state and local response teams are deployed at sites along the coast to deal with local effects.
We will continue to monitor the situation and post information pertinent to our local area here as it become available.