DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. — Every day since he arrived at this beach resort community about 30 minutes by car from Mobile, Kenny Small of Gray has taken a two-hour drive.

Small, a supervisor with Clean Harbors environmental services, makes a daily circuit around Mobile Bay. He stops at eight work sites where Clean Harbor crews are cleaning up the BP oil that has been washing up on the miles of white-sand beaches lining the Alabama coastline.

“I want to see what is going on, whether everyone is happy,” said Small, who has a wife and an 11-year-old daughter in Maine.

Small is one of dozens of Mainers spending their summer responding to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. While some Mainers are in the thick of the action, cleaning up oily wildlife or skimming oil off the water, others are responsible for more mundane tasks, such as making sure equipment and supplies are where they are needed when they are needed.

Dauphin Island is a barrier island where people normally gather for relief from the region’s searing heat. The island is 14 miles long and not quite two miles wide. It is reached via a 3-mile-long bridge.

It is pelican country. Flocks of the primitive-looking birds pass overhead, and nearly every restaurant advertising crawfish boils, native shrimp and red snapper seems to be named for the creatures.

On Monday, the 86-degree water was an inviting alternative to the 94-degree air along Dauphin Island beaches.

But the beaches were largely deserted, except for cleanup crews patrolling the sand or resting under canvas tarps. Out in the water, orange booms had been positioned around the island to keep the oil from washing up.

Matt Smith of Salt Lake City, Utah, was one of the few bathers. Smith said his family had planned the trip three months ago and they were not going to let the spill deter them from a visit to Dauphin Island.

“We were already booked,” he said.

Luckily for Smith, this was a day when the oil wasn’t flowing in.

The oil comes and goes, said Small, depending on the wind and current. On this day, the wind blew it farther to the east.

The Clean Harbors crews focus on keeping the miles of boom surrounding the island maintained and in position. They also decontaminate boats entering the bay from the Gulf. All incoming boats are supposed to visit the decontamination barges floating at the entrance to the bay, where they are washed off.

The Clean Harbors operations in Alabama are coordinated at a command post in Mobile, where 600 people are organizing the cleanup in the region. This is where Jack Vallely of Cape Elizabeth spends his days, funneling instructions to Small and others.

Vallely is a veteran of hazardous waste response. He was at the World Trade Center site for five months after the Sept. 11 attacks. He headed south after Hurricane Katrina for four months. Now Vallely works with a dozen people representing other environmental services companies. He is competing with those companies for cleanup work and is known as a formidable player. “We call him ‘The Godfather,’” said John Stuart of Portland, who sits next to Vallely. Vallely said he is just trying to show his company’s strengths. “There is plenty of work to go around,” he said.

Stuart, a consultant at the command post, normally is fishing for lobsters off Portland at this time of year.  He managed to get home at one point to set his 800 traps and tag them, so he wouldn’t lose his license.

When he goes back for the Fourth of July, he will haul them. Stuart said he would rather be fishing, but with the price of lobster so low, it made more financial sense to work on the spill, at BP’s expense.

With Gulf of Mexico fishing grounds closed and shrimp boats diverted to the cleanup effort, he is hoping the reduced supply of Gulf shrimp will increase demand for Maine lobster.

Meanwhile, Stuart said he is in Mobile for the long haul.

“I was told that it could be 90 days to a year and a half,” he said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: [email protected]