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.
Landfall Reports and Predictions:
· Tar balls and tar patties have been reported on Florida’s shore today, June 5, in widely scattered areas stretching from Pensacola Beach to Grayton Beach. Cleanup teams are on site.
· Reconnaissance missions for June 5 reported that oil sheen was sighted just more than half a mile south of Pensacola Beach and Hurlburt Field in Okaloosa County.
· On June 4, 11 cleanup crews recovered 520 tar balls near Escambia County and 12 tar mats were found one mile east and six miles south of Navarre Beach Pier. They were 30 feet by 15 feet and trailed by sheen.
o Multiple skimmers have been dispatched to collect the tar mats and sheen.
· According to NOAA projections, additional impacts are expected throughout northwest Florida within the next 72 hours due to moderate/strong southwesterly winds.
· 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.
· Observations by NOAA continue to indicate that a small portion of the oil slick, in the form of light sheens, 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.
· Florida continues to monitor the location of the Loop Current Ring for potential reattachment to the Florida straits.
· 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. BP has begun pumping gas and oil to the surface. There is hope that a significant portion of the flow will be captured but the amount is unknown at this time. 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 was upgraded to a Level 1 activation.
· June 5, DEP opened a mobile command post at Henderson Beach State Park in Destin for reconnaissance missions. A team of 25 will monitor the coastline for potential impacts on all terrain vehicles. Each all terrain vehicle will monitor five miles of shoreline.
· June 5 and 6, Florida’s state waters are open for free saltwater species fishing without a license for Floridians and visitors, under Governor Crist’s Executive Order 10-115. This is the second weekend after the opening of red snapper season. All other fishing rules apply.
· June 4, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson and Chairman Rodney Barreto of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced that the summer oyster harvesting areas in the Apalachicola Bay System will now include harvest on Saturdays, providing fishermen six days of harvesting per week.
· 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 opened 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.
· 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.
· On May 18, 2010 the Small Business Administration (SBA) opened eight offices and a mobile unit in the Panhandle. To date, these offices have issued a total of 174 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 https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.airnow.gov/ or https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/.
o Air quality reports for June 4 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 259,750 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 Florida Department of Health and DEP are closely monitoring health and environmental impacts to Florida and county health departments will issue 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.
· In addition, only qualified community responders should handle oil products and oil-contaminated materials. Volunteers and non-volunteers are not to engage in direct contact with oil and oil contaminated products such as tar balls, tar patty, tar mats, and oil sheen. To report tar products on the beach or in the water call the Florida Warning Point line at 1-877-272-8335.
· For general health information questions regarding the oil-spill and exposure to oil spill products contact the Florida Poison Information Centers at 1-800-222-1222.
Fisheries & Seafood:
· June 4, FWC advised anglers and boaters in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties in Northwest Florida that oil could soon reach the coastal waters of those counties. FWC cautions people to avoid any oil they may encounter on the water while fishing or boating. FWC will continue to monitor the waters and advise the public if a closure is necessary. Learn more.
· June 4, NOAA revised the fishery closure zone to open the Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas to commercial and recreational fishing. All commercial and recreational fishing including catch and release is prohibited in the closed area in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. 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 https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://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 https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.visitflorida.com/florida_travel_advisory/.
· The Florida State Parks website, https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=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 https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=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 https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org/.
· Report a change in Air Quality to https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/.
· For information on scheduled beach cleanups and other volunteer opportunities, visit https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=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, https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://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 https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.deepwaterhorizonflorida.com/.
· For a list of Unified Command, BP and Florida phone numbers, visit https://webmail.myflorida.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/default.htm%23numbers
· 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).