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Oil spill affects Farragut businessman


The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has forced one Farragut man to make changes to how he does business.

“We’ve had to readjust our lives just a little,” Phil Dangel, co-owner of The Shrimp Dock, said.

The Shrimp Dock, 11124 Kingston Pike, gets its seafood from its own boats, normally stationed off Louisiana’s coast. But that has changed after a BP America oil rig exploded 50 miles off the Louisiana coast April 20.

The explosion killed 11 and caused an underwater leak from a blown-out wellhead more than a mile under the surface of the water. Since that time, the well has leaked more than 4 million gallons of oil.


Because of the danger of the oil spill, commercial shrimping and fishing have been banned in the waters off Louisiana and Mississippi.

Dangel said he’s moved his boats off the coast of Texas, and he’s prepared to move them to Florida or even the Carolinas should the oil slick continue to spread.

“The shrimping season really hadn’t started yet, but before the slick got close to New Orleans, they told the boats to go out and catch as much shrimp as they could,” Dangel said.

“The rumors of a shortage are probably going to be true, but so far we are getting all of our shrimp. It’s not affected the shrimp; it’s affected the price,” he added.

A portion of that price change is being passed to consumers.

“We’ve taken a small price increase. The increase we’ve taken from vendors is larger than what we’ve passed along. I didn’t think that it was realistic to raise the price through the roof,” Dangel said.

For now, that’s the only change seafood lovers are seeing.

But if the oil slick spreads and other coasts ban commercial fishing, that could lead to serious shortages and higher prices.

“For the next three or four weeks, we look like we’re going to be in good shape,” Dangel said.

“If the thing continues for a long time, it could affect us,” he added. And part of that effect may be due to an unexpected cause: fishermen could make more money doing cleanup for BP than they make fishing.

“Some of the shrimpers are making more money going to work for BP and cleaning up than they were shrimping. So there’s a double-whammy there,” Dangel said.

According to Dangel, shrimp is the seafood most affected by the spill.

He said another potentially endangered seafood staple could be oysters, which The Shrimp Dock harvests from the waters near Apalachicola, Fla. But so far, Florida is safe from the oil spill.

“We’re very cautious about oysters, and should that spot become an issue, I don’t know what we would do. But so far, we don’t see that as an issue,” Dangel said.

In comparison with the Gulf oil leak, the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill dumped 10.8 million gallons into the waters of Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita together destroyed 113 oil platforms, causing about 8 million gallons of oil to leak into Gulf Coast waters.

BP has stated it is spending about $6 million a day to stop the Deepwater Horizon leak; it is in the process of drilling a relief well, but officials have stated that could take months to complete.

For more information about The Shrimp Dock, call the store at 865-777-3625 or visit www.theshrimpdock.com

 

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