VENICE, La. -- Venice, in lower Plaquemines Parish, is one of five sites between Louisiana and the Florida panhandle where crews are preparing to respond to that massive oil spill, still growing 20 miles offshore.
An underwater well continues to leak more than 40,000 gallons of crude oil per day from the site of the wrecked drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.
Supplies are arriving by the truck load to help fight the pollution should the spill moves toward the Louisiana coast.
Chief Rob Birdwell is a member of the Coast Guard's elite national strike force, sent to Venice to help coordinate the cleanup.
"The role of this place is going to be almost like a forward operating base, a staging area that we can deploy equipment out of, that we're able to set it up and get it closer on scene in the event there is impact of oil on the southern Louisiana coast," said Birdwell.
There is already more than 100,000 feet of oil containment boom staged in Venice, along with pallets full of absorbent material, skimmers, communication trailers and small boats.
"Preparation is the key right now," said Birdwell. "That's what we're working on to kind of get one step ahead and try to minimize whatever impact we may be dealing with here in the future."
The Coast Guard is also being proactive. According to Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, crews are already deploying oil containment booms near Pass a Loutre, Pelican Island and Breton Sound.
Wednesday, they are expected to deploy them near the Chandeleur Islands.
"Our biggest fear is that the winds push it ashore and that we end up with oil along the shoreline that would really hurt the environment as far as the seafood industry and the marshes," said Nungesser.
While crews prepare to fight a giant oil spill, shrimper Acy Cooper and his sons prepare their boats for the start of shrimp season in a couple of weeks -- a season Copper says may now be in jeopardy. "This is the time of the year that they all come in," said Cooper. "With the oil slick out there, it could kill all the little shrimp that's coming in, so we're worried seriously about it. It's going to be devastating to our industry."
"We'll do everything that we can to protect environmentally and economically sensitive areas," said Birdwell.
In addition to Venice, the Coast Guard is also setting up staging areas in Biloxi and Pascagoula, Mississippi; Theodore, Alabama; and Pensacola, Florida.