Local News

Coastal residents have second thoughts on oil exploration

Posted April 28, 2010 2:16 p.m. EDT
Updated April 28, 2010 8:05 p.m. EDT

— As crews try to control a massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, many people along North Carolina’s coast are having second thoughts about the idea of oil exploration locally.

Wayne Umphlette, who owns Harbor Welding in the tiny Dare County village of Wanchese, would like to see oil drilling locally, especially if it means finding safe harbor in an economic storm.

“I think it means a lot of jobs. I think it means a growth potential for both Dare County and Wanchese,” he said.

Off the coast of Louisiana, an oil rig exploded last week causing 42,000 gallons of oil a day to leak into Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead. The cause of the explosion has not been determined.

On Wednesday, crews were planning to set fire to leaking oil in a last-ditch effort to get rid of it before it reaches environmentally sensitive marshlands on the coast.

The cost of disaster continues to rise and could easily top $1 billion.

Umphlette said explosions like the one off the Louisiana coast are few.

“This was a bad thing, people lost their lives. But in a big scale, we’ve lost a whole lot of people in a whole lot of other ways,” he said.

Outer Banks tourist Ron Tutterow is against the idea of off shore drilling.

Tutterow said the pristine, open beaches are what draws him to the coast every year.

“It’s a beautiful area down here and I’m just so afraid that if they start drilling something will happen,” he said.

Dare County Commissioner Warren Judge agrees.

“I don’t see off shore oil drilling putting a single job in Dare County. I don’t see an economic advantage in Dare County. I see Dare County having all the risk,” he said.