Oil spill offers volunteer, employment opportunities

Published 12:11 pm Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Although there continues to be uncertainty about where and when the oil spill in the gulf will reach shore, there could be opportunities for volunteers and unemployed workers to help in the cleanup effort.

“The oil spill could mean an economic as well as an ecological disaster to the Gulf Coast,” said Matthew Hughes, director of Gov. Bob Riley’s office of workforce development. “Local career centers are standing by to assist people who may lose their jobs because of the spill as well as people who want jobs created because of the spill.”

Jim Freeze, vice president and general manager of Advanced Industrial Services/GCPG Services International, at least 500 workers will be needed along the Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana coasts to perform cleanup and coastal protection jobs. Advanced Industrial Services/GCPG Services International is contracted to conduct cleanup and coastal protection operations.

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Individuals interested in applying for these jobs should contact their local one-stop career center or apply online at www.joblink.alabama.gov. Career center phone numbers are listed under Alabama Career Center System.

Workforce Escarosa, an employment agency of Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties in Florida, will hold a hiring event today in an effort to find workers needed along the coast when cleanup begins.

The environmental cleanup effort is necessary due to an oil slick created with the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was destroyed off the coast of Louisiana two weeks ago.

A hiring event will be held in Century, Fla., from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. today at the Century One-Stop offices of Workforce Escarosa on Century Blvd. Overflow of attendees may find the event relocated to the Century Agriculture Building on Highway 4 near the Century Nursing Care Facility, officials said.

A second event is also planned for 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. today in Pensacola, Fla., at the Workforce Escarosa’s North L Street location.

Meanwhile, volunteers interested in helping clean up can contact one of several organizations on the coast that are involved in the effort.

Tom Herder, watershed protection coordinator for the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, said his organization and others have begun by picking up trash along Dauphin Island to help keep the beaches clean.

Trash that becomes contaminated by oil would be sent to the Timberlands Landfill on Alabama 41, north of Brewton, which is the only landfill in the area that can take oil-covered waste.

Anyone interested in finding out about volunteer opportunities with NEP or other organizations can sign up on the NEP Web site at www.mobilebaymep.com or joinncf.com.

Kerry Whipple Bean contributed to this story.