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:
· On June 9, dime to six inch-sized tar balls and tar patties were found in widely scattered areas from the Alabama/Florida state line east to Okaloosa County. Tar ball and tar patty findings are more concentrated in the western-most Florida counties. Clean up teams continue to be on scene. Oil sheen has been reported off the Navarre Beach area and on the Alabama/Florida state line.
· Perdido Pass will be closed with the tide to prevent oil from entering the Bay. Boom will be deployed across the Pass at flood tide (water coming in) and removed at ebb tide (water going out).
· According to NOAA projections, additional impacts are expected throughout northwest Florida within the next 72 hours due to onshore winds.
· Multiple skimmers have been dispatched to collect tar mats and sheen.
· Impacts to Florida’s shoreline will likely 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 no significant amounts of oil moving toward the Loop Current. The Loop Current Ring, a circular current which was formerly part of the Loop Current and contains a small portion of oil slick in the form of light sheens, has reattached to the main Loop Current after previously pinching off late last month. This reattachment has the potential to move a small amount of oil to the Florida Straits.
o There have been no reports of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill-related oil products reaching the shore beyond the Panhandle region. There is no indication that the rest of the state will have impacts from weathered oil products within the next 72 hours.
· 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 a 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 this is only a temporary and partial fix. On June 9, 15,800 barrels were captured from the LMRP Cap Containment System.
· Meanwhile, BP is continuing efforts to drill relief wells.
· To discuss spill related damage with BP representatives, please call the BP Claims Reporting Line at 1-800-440-0858.
· The State Emergency Operations Center is activated at Level 1.
· On June 9, the Gulf Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force held its first meeting in Tallahassee to facilitate efforts by Florida businesses and industries in recovering from lost business and revenues due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Learn more.
· On June 9, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced that its commissioners will hold an informal meeting in Pensacola Beach on Tuesday, June 15, to hear from people with fish and wildlife concerns related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Learn more.
· On June 9, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services implemented a new toll-free hotline to provide consumers with current information about the status of Florida’s open and closed fishing harvest areas, the availability of seafood varieties, and general pricing information. The number is 1-800-357-4273. Learn more.
· On June 8, Governor Crist announced the State of Florida’s additional proactive measures to ensure the quick and timely discovery of oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Reconnaissance missions are being coordinated daily from the State Emergency Operations Center. Learn more.
· On June 8, the Florida Department of Health issued important health information regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill incident, reminding both Floridians and visitors to avoid contact with tar and oiled debris to ensure public health and safety. Learn more.
· On June 7, Governor Crist activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program in an effort to assist businesses impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The program will provide emergency, short-term loans to established small businesses in designated counties. Learn more.
· On June 5, DEP began operating a mobile command post at Henderson Beach State Park in Destin for reconnaissance missions. A team of staff on 25 all-terrain vehicles are monitoring the coastline from Escambia County east to Gulf County for potential impacts. Each all-terrain vehicle monitors five miles of shoreline.
· BP has opened 10 claims offices in Florida. Visit the BP Claims Page to learn more.
· Governor 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 Amended Emergency Final Order to accelerate preparedness and restoration in the counties under the Governor’s state-of-emergency Executive Orders.
· On May 18, the Small Business Administration (SBA) opened eight offices and a mobile unit in the Panhandle. To date, these offices have issued a total of 267 applications. Of the applications issued, 44 applications have been accepted, two have been approved, and 14 have been declined. 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 9 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 275,500 feet of boom has been placed in Florida along the most sensitive areas of the Panhandle and 36,350 feet is staged. Additionally, counties in the region are moving forward with supplemental booming plans. As of June 9, 197,440 feet of supplemental boom has been deployed or staged by Florida contractors.
· 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.
· On June 8, Escambia County Health Department, in coordination with Escambia County Emergency Management and local officials posted a health advisory for the area extending from the Florida-Alabama state line to the entrance of the Perdido Unit, Gulf Islands National Seashore. Learn more.
· The Florida Department of Health and DEP continue to closely monitor health and environmental impacts to Florida’s coastal communities.
· If residents or visitors see tar or oiled debris on the beach, DO NOT PICK IT UP. Report it to the Florida State Warning Point by calling #DEP from a cell phone or 1-877-2-SAVE-FL (1-877-272-8335). For most people, an occasional brief contact with a small amount of oil will do no harm, yet still it is not recommended. Learn more.
· In addition, volunteers helping with response efforts are not to engage in direct contact with oil and oil contaminated products such as tar balls, tar patty, tar mats and oil sheen.
· Only qualified community responders should handle oil products and oil-contaminated materials.
· 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:
· On June 8, NOAA adjusted the boundaries of the previously closed fishing area, opening 339 square miles off the Florida Panhandle, with the northern boundary now ending at the Florida federal-state water line on the east side of Choctawhatchee Bay. On June 5, NOAA initially closed the area as a precaution, as oil was projected to be present in the area within 48 hours. Satellite imagery, radar and aerial data review indicated no oil present. The federal closed area does not apply to state waters. Closed fishing in these areas is a precautionary measure to ensure Gulf seafood remains safe for consumers. The closed area contains 78,264 square miles, approximately 32 percent of Gulf federal waters. This leaves approximately 68 percent of Gulf federal waters available for fishing. 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.
· To report oiled wildlife, please call 1-866-557-1401 and leave a message. Messages are checked hourly.
· For the safety of the public as well as the safety of animals, rescues should only 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).
· Individuals interested in volunteering can register at www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org.
· Volunteers will not be in direct contact with oil or oil-contaminated materials.
· The Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service – Volunteer Florida is encouraging Floridians and visitors to stay current on the latest information on scheduled beach cleanups and other local volunteer opportunities. Learn more.
· Individuals who live along or who are visiting coastal communities are encouraged to enjoy Florida’s coastal areas while watching for oiled wildlife and shoreline. Report oiled wildlife by calling 1-866-557-1401 and report oiled shoreline in Florida by calling #DEP from a cell phone or 1-877-2-SAVE-FL (1-877-272-8335).
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).