On Wednesday, pilots have started observing a light sheen of oil in the vicinity of Southwest Pass, but it hasn’t let to any ships needing to be cleaned.

“As the spill is getting closer, we are continuing to coordinate our efforts with the Coast Guard, the pilots and other maritime stakeholders to ensure that – if necessary-- the effort to clean ships’ hulls will go smoothly and keep delays to a minimum,” said Gary LaGrange, President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans.

Projections prepared 1 p.m.  Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that light to medium oil sheen is expected to reach the entrance to Southwest Pass by Thursday morning. The forecast shows the situation improving over the following two days with a small area of light sheen projecting west of the entrance to Southwest Pass on Saturday morning.

Ships will be inspected upon arrival at Southwest pass to determine if they need to be cleaned. The Coast Guard says that ships that keep moving at a safe pace through light oil sheen may not require cleaning.

Two cleaning stations on the Mississippi River have been established in order to better facilitate the flow of maritime commerce. The cleaning stations are now located at Boothville and at Burrwood.

If a ship is heavily oiled, it will be cleaned at Boothville, where it can anchor. Booms will be placed around the ship before it is pressure washed.

The new location at Burrwood will be ready Thursday morning so that ships that are lightly oiled can be cleaned while they are in transit. The Burrwood location is in Southwest Pass, about 15 miles below Head of Passes.