The Coast Guard unit that oversees Long Island waters is tracking the Gulf oil slick and will activate a regional spill plan if the oil threatens local shores, officials said Friday.

In recent weeks New York lawmakers have asked authorities to make plans for handling the oil, should currents carry it to Long Island, and share details with local officials.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

As it happens, the Coast Guard and the state Department of Environmental Conservation already have a plan in place - a general template for handling large oil spills that emergency responders modify to fit specific incidents, such as the crash of TWA Flight 800.

"We can't get into exact tactics because we don't know if it's going to get here and what the weather will be like when it does," said Capt. Dan Ronan, commander of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound.

The DEC and Coast Guard have been monitoring the spill and will meet with East End town representatives next week to discuss the existing plan, officials said. The plan sets up an emergency chain of command, outlines containment strategies such as boom deployment and highlights environmentally sensitive areas like the South Shore's fragile back bays.


Such contingency plans are required under a federal law passed after the Exxon Valdez spill. Ronan said county emergency managers are already aware of the Long Island plan, which has been in place since 1994 and is updated regularly.