Under the leadership of Governor Charlie Crist, the State Emergency Response Team and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are actively coordinating and responding to the Deepwater Horizon incident.
The following is a summary of state and BP response actions to date, as well as tips for residents and visitors to take precautions both pre and post-landfall.
· June 4, tar patties and tar balls have been confirmed in widely scattered areas east of Pensacola. Reconnaissance flight missions are determining locations.
o Eleven cleanup crews are either onsite or moving towards the area.
o Additional impacts are expected in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties within the next 72 hours.
· The latest projections from NOAA indicate that additional weathered oil from the leading edge of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill could impact the Florida Panhandle today due to a shift in winds and currents.
· Oil sheen was reported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approximately five to six miles south of Pensacola Pass and southeast of Navarre on June 4.
· Any potential impacts to Florida’s shoreline will be highly weathered, in the form of tar balls, oil sheen, tar mats or mousse – a pudding-like oil/water mixture that could be brown, rust or orange in color.
· Skimmers have been deployed near Pensacola with the hopes of removing that oil from near shore waters and preventing and minimizing any potential impacts to Florida.
· Observations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) continue to indicate that a small portion of the oil slick has reached the Loop Current Ring, a circular current which was formerly part of the Loop Current but has pinched off at the Florida Straits, in the form of light sheens. Florida continues to monitor the location of the Loop Current and Loop Current Ring based on NOAA’s daily projections. Currents in the Gulf have formed an eddy, a circular current, which caused the loop current to pinch off at the Florida straits and is projected to move oil to the west. Learn more at the NOAA website.
· If oil is sighted on Florida’s coastline report it to the State Warning Point at 1-877-2-SAVE-FL (1-877-272-8335) or by dialing #DEP from most cell phones.
On Site Actions:
· Current projections estimate Deepwater Horizon’s discharge at 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day. Learn more.
· BP has placed Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) Cap Containment System in an attempt to contain the leak and capture a substantial amount of the leaking oil. Success will be determined in the future. This is only a temporary and partial fix. Learn more.
· Meanwhile, BP is continuing efforts to drill relief wells.
· June 4, the State Emergency Operations Center has been upgraded to a Level 1 activation.
· June 4, Governor Charlie Crist announced that his request for a Fishery Failure Determination for Florida has been granted by the United States Department of Commerce. Impacted fisherman and affected businesses can now qualify for economic injury loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
· On June 4, BP will open a claims office in Key West at 3706 N. Roosevelt Blvd, Suite H in Key West. Visit the BP Claims Page to learn more.
· On June 3, Governor Crist sent a letter to Mr. Lamar McKay, President, BP America requesting BP to commit $100 million to enhance monitoring, evaluating and responding to the constantly changing conditions related to the Deepwater Horizon incident.
· On June 5 and 6, Florida’s state waters will be open for free saltwater species fishing without a license for Floridians and visitors, under Governor Crist’s Executive Order 10-115. This is the first weekend after the opening of red snapper season. All other fishing rules apply.
· Governor Charlie Crist has issued three Executive Orders since April 30, 2010 declaring a state of emergency in 26 coastal counties that may see impacts.
· DEP issued an Emergency Final Order to accelerate preparedness and restoration in the counties under the Governor’s state-of-emergency Executive Orders.
· BP has opened claims offices in Florida. Visit the BP Claims Page to learn more.
· On May 18, 2010 the Small Business Administration (SBA) opened eight offices in the Panhandle. To date, these offices have issued a total of 156 applications. Find an office here.
· DEP conducted water and sediment sampling to use as a baseline and is monitoring air quality data. Statewide air quality monitoring is conducted in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more at http://www.airnow.gov/ or http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/.
o Air quality reports for June 3, revealed that air quality was considered good for ozone and particulate matter in the Panhandle. “Good” means the air quality is satisfactory and air pollution poses little or no risk.
· Approximately 261,250 feet of boom has been placed in Florida along the most sensitive areas of the Panhandle, and counties in the region are moving forward with supplemental booming plans.
· Placement of boom is based on where the oil is threatening, as well as each region’s area contingency plan.
· The Unified Command Operations Group is asking boaters to avoid damaging boom. Boom cut or broken due to boater traffic jeopardizes coastal protection.
· Stolen or misplaced boom should be reported to local authorities.
· At this time, there are no indications of any health risks due to the Deepwater Horizon incident. The Department of Health and DEP are closely monitoring health and environmental impacts to Florida’s beaches and will notice an advisory if conditions become unsafe.
· For most people, an occasional brief contact with a small amount of oil, while not recommended, will do no harm. Learn more.
Fisheries & Seafood:
· NOAA has extended the boundaries of the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico up to the state water line in Alabama and the western tip of the Florida Panhandle. This federal closure does not apply to any of Florida’s waters. Closing fishing in these areas is a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers. Learn more.
· At this time, Florida’s state waters remain open to recreational fishing.
· Fishermen who wish to contact BP about a claim should call 1-800-440-0858.
· Report oiled wildlife to the Wildlife Distress Hotline at 1-866-557-1401.
· For the safety of the public as well as the safety of animals, rescues should be conducted by trained responders. Learn more.
· Through www.VISITFLORIDA.com, vacationers are able to view live Twitter feeds and read up-to-the-minute information on the status of any city or region in Florida. Learn more at http://www.visitflorida.com/florida_travel_advisory/.
· The Florida State Parks website, http://www.floridastateparks.org, is updated daily and will list any impacts. Learn more by calling 1-850-245-2157.
Tips for Homeowners:
· While the state appreciates the concern expressed by Floridians and the ingenuity of those seeking alternative measures to help protect the state’s shoreline, the following tips are offered to ensure that these measures are helpful and not harmful to Florida’s coasts, wildlife and water resources: Tips for homeowners.
Tips for Businesses and Consumers:
· The Attorney General’s fraud hotline is open to receive any reports of fraud or price gouging. The hotline is 1-866-966-7226.
· The Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner gas price-gouging hotline is also operational. The toll-free hotline number is 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352).
· Coastal businesses should make loss of earnings claims for damages incurred as a result of the oil spill. Businesses should file a claim with BP by calling 1-800-440-0858. Learn more at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/ or by calling 1-850-413-3089 or toll-free at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).
· The Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service is encouraging Floridians and visitors to become a Coast Watch volunteer. Learn more at www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org.
· Report a change in Air Quality to http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/.
· For information on scheduled beach cleanups and other volunteer opportunities, visit http://www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org/.
· BP has established a volunteer program and set up a toll-free number for those interested in volunteering. Learn more by calling BP’s community information line at 1-866-448-5816.
Learn More About Florida’s Response:
· DEP launched a Twitter account, www.Twitter.com/FLDEPalert, dedicated to providing updates on Florida’s response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
· DEP in coordination with the state Emergency Operations Center established an email sign-up and a comprehensive website at http://www.deepwaterhorizonflorida.com.
· For a list of Unified Command, BP and Florida phone numbers, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/default.htm#numbers
· The Oil Spill Information Line is available at 1-888-337-3569 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. seven days a week. Additional phone numbers have also been established for persons with disabilities: (800) 955-8771 (TDD) or (800) 955-8770 (voice).