Ask CBS News: Is Gulf Shellfish Safe to Eat?

Katie Couric answers a viewer question submitted via Twitter about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Katie Couric answers a viewer question submitted via Twitter about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In our ongoing "Ask CBS News" segment, we've answered your questions about the Gulf oil spill. Viewers can leave questions on "CBS Evening News" Anchor Katie Couric's Twitter page or the CBS News Facebook page.

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Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

Tonight we answered more of your questions.

A viewer asked: "What safeguards will be put in place to assure the consumer that shellfish is safe for human consumption?"

CBS News Correspondent Don Teague answered from Grand Isle, La., that this is a real issue for a lot of people. The Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have now pledged increased inspections of seafood from the Gulf that include, for the first time ever, dockside sampling and chemical testing by federal inspectors right on the docks. They are also flying aircraft over the banned fishing areas and even using satellite images to make sure fishermen aren't harvesting any seafood from contaminated areas.

With hurricane season here, another viewer asked: "Since the relief wells are two months away, what are the plans if there is a major hurricane?"

Couric answered that big storms are not unusual in the Gulf. In fact, in the past 10 years, seven hurricanes have hit the coast.

CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone explored this question further here.

Finally, a viewer is concerned that the oil disaster could give terrorists the idea of bombing other offshore oil rigs. He asks, "Are there any efforts to prevent this?"

CBS News Correspondent Bob Orr answered from Washington that officials say terrorists are not likely to target oil rigs, and it's obvious why; they're isolated, often far from shore, in deep waters and relatively easy to protect. But security experts are closely watching and improving defenses around other key infrastructure such as pipelines, the power grid and water treatment plants because those are vulnerable to physical attacks, like bombings, and also cyber-attacks, which could shut down critical operations. Transit is the biggest challenge and the top al Qaeda target. Trains and trucks every day haul lethal chemicals across America, a fact not lost on terrorists. As for the offshore oil rigs, they're not high on the risk list.

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