Shrimpers worried about long term impact of ArcelorMittal oil spill

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCIV) - Coast Guard officials say therehas been no harm done to wildlife after an oil spill in the Sampit RiverWednesday.

However, some fishermen are concerned about the spill's longterm impact on the area.

Timothy Hewitt and Hunter Smith are shrimpers working tobring an old fish market back to life. From their spot next to ArcelorMittalSteel Mill, they got a perfect view of Wednesday's spill.

"It just covered the whole circle right here,"Smith said.

The steel mill took responsibility for the spill, along withimmediate action to clean it up. But Smith still worries that if some of theoil makes its way to the ocean, it could be another blow to what he calls adying art.

"People just quit shrimping because of the price offuel and the water, so much pollution and stuff like that, and oil, people dospill oil in the water all the time. Yeah, it takes a toll on shrimping,"he said.

Waccamaw riverkeeper Paula Reidhaar says her group is keepinga close eye on the spill since the Sampit River is in the same watershed as theWaccamaw. She says the steel company has done all the right things so far, butthere could still be long term effects from the spill.

"Even if we think we've cleaned it up, you never canreally do 100 percent. If some (oil) stays out there, it could have impactsthat we may not see, and may not see for years to come," Reidhaar said.

It helps that the spill is a lubricating material not aheavy crude oil, Reidhaar says, but any type of oil in the water can be aproblem for wildlife.

"Oil can have impacts on reproduction for organisms aswell as immediate impacts, such as getting into the fur and feathers of animalsthat have natural resistance in the waters and impacting those to not allowthem to stay warm, and those sorts of things," she said.

The Coast Guard says a snag in the steel mill's containmentboom is what caused the spill.