As the oil spill in the Gulf continues to spread, Long Island environmental cleanup firms are sending teams to wash oil off the hulls of shipping vessels and skim crude from coastal waters off Louisiana. Others remain on standby further east, where federal scientists say winds this week could push the slick toward fragile barrier islands off Alabama and Mississippi.

Some workers from Miller Environmental Group of Calverton were redeployed from Mississippi to southern Louisiana to help with cleanup efforts there, said owner and chief executive Mark Miller.

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"They're operating shallow-water skimming systems," Miller said. "We still have a large number of people in Mississippi awaiting orders for any oil seen off the Alabama or Mississippi coast."

Miller has 750 people stationed around the Gulf in response to the spill, which has been gushing oil from a deep sea well for more than a month. A few dozen of those workers are from Long Island; many others come from the firm's other offices in the northeast or have been recruited locally.

Twelve Long Islanders have also been sent down from National Response Corp., a Great River company that specializes in oil spill prevention and cleanup. President Steven Candito said the company has about 180 workers involved in spill response now.


"Our focus is still the deepwater stuff," Candito said. "In addition to the traditional skimming of oil, we've also done a lot of hull-cleaning work. Boats that have come through the Gulf of Mexico in transit, our crews are washing the hulls and cleaning up the oil that washes off."

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Gulfwide, more than 20,000 people are now working there to clean up the oil and protect shorelines and wildlife, according to the Joint Information Center set up by the Coast Guard, BP and the federal Minerals Management Service.