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Gulf Coast begins preparing for oil's onslaught

BILOXI, Miss. — Booms are going up along the Gulf Coast to thwart the creeping oil slick gradually making its way to Mississippi shores.

Executive Director Bill Walker with the Department of Marine Resources and Executive Director Trudy Fisher with Department of Environmental Quality met Thursday to create a priority list of the most pristine areas where the Coast Guard should deploy the floating barriers later.

Walker said those include the Pascagoula River area, the Biloxi Back Bay, the Biloxi bay system including Deer Island, Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Bay St. Louis Bay and some of the critical marshes including Bayou Caddy.

Walker said the Gulf Island National Seashores had also been deploying booms Wednesday at Cat, West Ship and Horn islands and would continue Thursday.

“Everybody that should be doing something is,” he said.

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Gulf Coast is implementing an environmental contingency plan. The shipyard is putting approximately 13,000 feet of containment boom around the entire west bank facility "that is designed to protect all Northrop Grumman and U.S. Navy assets," said media relations manager Bill Glenn.

“In addition, the company will be setting a 24-hour watch specific to the oil spill and will remain in contact with our local and government officials through the process,” he said.

Moby Salangi with the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies said his group has been ready since the initial spill last week to assist in the clean-up of birds and marine life that may encounter the spill.

Mozart Dedeux at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center is compiling a list of volunteers who want to be trained to assist with bird cleaning if needed.