What does the Gulf oil spill mean for New Jersey?
While it is unlikely that BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will impact the Jersey Shore or the state’s fishing industry this summer, the DEP is not taking any chances. Commissioner Bob Martin has assembled a special Gulf Spill Team to monitor the situation, to create a unique scientific model of the likely path of the contaminated waters, and to develop a plan of action in the unlikely event that the oil does reach New Jersey.
The Gulf Spill Team consists of DEP officials and experts, plus outside scientists who are offering their services to the state. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been the lead agency in dealing with the situation nationally, but Commissioner Martin has directed the special Gulf Spill Team to create a unique, New Jersey-specific model of the potential course of the oil. Scientists are mapping a variety of possibilities, creating models for best case to worst case scenarios, taking into effect water currents, depths, temperatures and salinity, plus weather conditions, including potential hurricanes and tropical storms.
The DEP, State Police, State Emergency Management, New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and others are also working together to create an action plan to manage the unlikely event that the state is impacted by the Gulf oil spill.
Please come back to this site for updates and additional resources.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Gulf Oil Spill
Will New Jersey’s beaches be safe this summer?
Yes. We are optimistic the oil will not reach the Shore. It is improbable that the oil slick will reach New Jersey, and would require a “sequence of unlikely events’’ to do so.
Is it safe to fish now?
Yes, fishing is very safe. Migrating species, including blues and striped bass, have already made their way to Jersey waters and are not affected by the Gulf oil spill. Additionally, the shellfish harvest will also be very good this season.
Do we need to change our summer vacation plans?
Absolutely not. The Jersey Shore will be open for business as usual. We expect a great summer season in New Jersey.
Is New Jersey monitoring the oil spill?
Yes. Commissioner Martin has created a Gulf Spill Team. Our DEP scientists, with help from scientists at Rutgers University and Stevens Institute of Technology, are closely observing the situation.
What would happen in the unlikely event that Gulf oil reached New Jersey?
Most likely, we would see it in the form of tarballs—hard-shelled, soft-centered objects—which could be as small as pebbles, a bit like burnt marshmallows.
How would we deal with those tarballs?
The DEP, State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security officials are working now on a plan of action to deal with that unlikely possibility.
If the unlikely events occurred, when could Gulf oil reach the state?
If the oil were to reach New Jersey it would not occur until after the summer season, not likely until October, November or later.
Should residents, businesses, fishermen or beachgoers be worried?
No. The state’s beaches and fishing areas will be open for business this summer. Beaches will be clean and water quality will be very good. Enjoy the summer!