Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
Scientists, federal officials who led oil spill response headed to Mobile
Some of the scientists and government officials involved in understanding and leading the response to the Gulf oil spill will be in Mobile this week for the Alabama Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium, a two-day event that includes 180 presentations on various Gulf concerns.
“On the Gulf Coast, the environment is at the center of everybody’s culture,” said Roberta Swann, director of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, which organized the symposium.
“It is not often that we are able to get scientists doing important work together with the public at an event like this. Some of these people are presenting brand new research from the oil spill, and we’ve got programs that touch on every issue facing our coastline.”
Among the speakers scheduled is Mobile native Mike DeGruy, one of the most famous underwater cinematographers in the world. DeGruy’s work has appeared on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic Television, the BBC and PBS.
DeGruy’s work has earned him an Emmy award and taken him beneath both polar ice caps, to the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Atlantic and the Pacific, and to the wreck of the Titanic. The public can attend his presentation Wednesday evening at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center for $10 per person.
The symposium, which runs Wednesday and Thursday, is open to the public, and tickets for the two-day event are $100. That includes breakfast and lunch each day.
One of the goals of the event is to bring Gulf scientists and industry leaders together with the public to begin a discussion about reducing the impact of coastal communities on the environment.
Andreas Theuer, head of corporate environmental policies for ThyssenKrupp AG, which owns a new steel mill north of Mobile, will speak, as will senior officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Andreas Theuer is going to talk about the idea of a corporation being an environmentally responsible partner and not limiting itself to what the regulations say,” Swann said. “That’s one of the focuses of the symposium, coming up with ways to mitigate environmental impacts while also earning a profit. He’ll speak about ways they’ve done that and why that’s good business policy.”
Other symposium topics range from the deeply scientific — using nuclear magnetic resonance technology to identify algae — to whimsical fare, such as creating a rain barrel to water your garden.
Ricky Mathews, publisher of the Press-Register and appointed by Gov. Bob Riley as head of the Coastal Recovery Commission of Alabama, will also speak.
“It’s just a great opportunity to learn about the science that’s going on,” Swann said. “We have Kerry St. Pe speaking. He worked for over 30 years with the oil industry and the state of Louisiana managing oil spill response. He’s got a lot to say about what has happened and how we and our wetlands can bounce back. That’s something everyone needs to hear.”
For more information or to register for the event, call the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program at 251-431-6409.