Gulf oil spill impact could ripple into SC

The environmental and economic impacts of the massive oil spill off the Gulf Coast are potentially disastrous as the oil spreads. Its reach could stretch nationwide and we could feel the wrath right here in the Midlands.

We have team coverage spanning the southeastern United States to bring you the latest.

Tuesday afternoon WACH Fox News' Brian McConchie attended a news conference in Mobile, AL.

Officials addressed the media with the newest information and the potential problems in the Gulf.

Thousands of emergency officials are working around the clock to keep the oil spill at bay. The Coast Guard and National Guard, along with volunteers, are doing all they can as the spill the size of Rhode Island lingers just 30 miles offshore.

Alabama Governor Bob Riley flew over the coastline Tuesday looking at the toll the spill has already taken and the potential damage it could do.

Crews have set over 100,000 feet of containment boom to keep the spill from coming ashore. Officials say up to 800,000 feet could still be set.

And on the financial front, the efforts carry a hefty price tag. Twenty five million dollars in federal funds has already been divvied out to each of the states affected to help with clean-up efforts.

And the fishing industry is probably being hit the hardest. Fish and shrimp boats remain docked as officials have closed the season for 10 days.

And the impact may ripple all the way to the Carolina Coast. Some experts are saying that if the spill enters the Gulf Stream, it would flow around the southern tip of Florida and up the eastern seaboard.

WACH Fox's Emily Pace headed to McClellanville in Charleston County to catch up with a lowcountry shrimper with more than 40 years of experience.

It's still too early too tell since the season doesn't kick off for a few weeks in South Carolina.

And while Jimmy Scott feels for his fellow shrimpers in the Gulf, it's quite possible that their loss could become his gain.

More than 80 percent of the domestic catch comes from the gulf and if the oil spill ruins their shrimping season, demand for the seafood from other areas will go up along with the price.

"If it does turn out where it ruins everything and they can't harvest the bulk of their crop, it will have a positive affect on our price," Scott explains.

Scott says it will take until the middle of June, after the season starts, to find out how much the prices will be affected by the spill.

And right here in the Midlands, restaurants and suppliers are saying they haven't seen an increase in cost.

However, that doesn't mean they're not bracing for the worst.

"We haven't really seen too much change right now," explains Michael Fomby, Manager of Mr. Friendly's restaurant which serves various high-end seafood dishes. "But our distributors have let us know that there could be some changes going on and what's available and certainly some of the pricing."

Another possible side effect of the spill is the outcome of President Obama's energy plan.

The president wants to expand drilling off the Atlantic Coast, which would affect the Carolina's. But this spill may make that more difficult.

Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, predicts those plans of expanded drilling would be "dead on arrival."

WACH Fox News and will continue to follow the impact as the situation develops.

Check back Wednesday as we talk to an expert at the University of South Carolina. She'll assess the cleanup efforts in the Gulf Coast.

We'll also have more from Brian on the Alabama coast.

Related Coverage:

Lowcountry shrimpers hope to cash in on oil spill Local shrimpers hoping for the best, despite oil spill the Gulf.

Midlands seafood unaffected by oil spill, worst to come The impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has yet to reach the Midlands according to various restaurants and stores.

POLL - Price of seafood Have you noticed a change in seafood prices as fishing in the Gulf of Mexico has shut down due to an oil spill?