Gulf oil spill

ST. PETERSBURG

Officials prepare for oil spill reaching Florida's west coast

 

skennedy@bradenton.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Officials today announced activation of a unified command that will oversee preparations should an oil slick from the Gulf of Mexico foul the west coast of Florida.

The latest predictions from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration indicate no impact to the western coast of Florida, from Taylor County to Collier County, within the next 72 hours, officials said.

But the oil slick resulting from last month’s fire and explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform and well continues to threaten the state, necessitating a coordinated effort among the U.S. Coast Guard, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and BP.

In meetings over the last couple days, the Coast Guard and Florida DEP have spoken with trustees from various national and state wildlife refugee areas, along with every county emergency management office on the West Coast of Florida, officials said.

The agencies also met with over 30 members of non-governmental environmental organizations including Tampa Bay Watch, Save our Seabirds, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Sierra Club and others.

“We are standing up a unified command, consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Department of Environmental Protections and BP, to facilitate planning and identify resource requirements to ensure a robust multi-agency response,” said Capt. Tim Close, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.

“We are planning for the worst case, but hopeful any impact will be substantially less than that, if at all,” said Close.

Meanwhile, the barrier islands south of Gulfport appeared relatively unscathed today from a brush Monday with British Petroleum oil covering 2,000 square miles of the Gulf.

Bill and Will Seeman, father and son businessmen in Gulfport, wanted to check conditions on Chandeleur Islands after receiving a report that the oil had come ashore Monday. They took a ride to the islands this morning in their 28-foot open fisherman.

The sky reflected a hundred shades of blue off calm Gulf waters. About 33 miles due south of Gulfport, the Seemans encountered what appeared to be oil broken up by the dispersant that disaster responders are spraying from the air and even using to break up oil as it gushes from broken rig pipe on the ocean floor.

The material looked like a flourescent orange highway winding along a portion of the islands’ west side near the southern tip. Will Seeman idled the boat so Bill Seeman could scoop up samples. The material beaded into very small, clear gelatinous droplets on his hand.

Seeman eventually spotted thin brown patches of oil within the fluorescent stream. Island marshes and sand appeared clean. Pelicans nested behind booms placed around one spit of marsh.

Seas were flat, the sky sunny. But they encountered no other recreational boaters, only Mississippi Department of Marine Resources vessels anchored on the north side of Ship Island.

“I’m relieved,” Bill Seeman said. “I have to say, there appears to be little permanent damage, which is encouraging.”

Read more Gulf Oil Spill stories from the Miami Herald

  • GULF OF MEXICO

    Decision expected on plug for BP's broken oil well

    Officials could know by early Friday if BP's broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico has been sealed for good. An analysis of tests on the well done Thursday was scheduled to be completed within 24 hours, letting the federal government and BP PLC know if work last month that was meant to be temporary had the unexpected effect of permanently plugging the gusher.

  • INTERACTIVE | GOOGLE MAP OF THE GULF OF MEXICO

    Click on icons for incident reports

    View Gulf oil spill in a larger map

  • THE GULF OF MEXICO

    Ships ready to leave BP leaky well as storm brews

    ON THE GULF OF MEXICO -- Crew members aboard dozens of ships in the Gulf of Mexico prepared Thursday to evacuate as a tropical rainstorm brewing in the Caribbean brought the deep-sea effort to plug BP's ruptured oil well to a near standstill.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category