Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Florida calls for more shoreline protection as oil nears

Gov. Charlie Crist said Wednesday he has requested additional boom to protect Florida's coast from an oil spill that has reached within 10 miles of the Panhandle beaches.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill off Louisiana has been gushing nearly 800,000 gallons a day since April 20. Winds are beginning to blow weathered oil towards Florida and oil sheen was spotted Tuesday 9.9 miles from the Panhandle coast, Crist said. With the oil sheen, the governor said, are thousands of tar balls.

The governor said 267,000 of oil boom has been placed along the Florida Panhandle and he said he had authorized 66,000 feet of supplemental boom for Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. "We are prepared to support more as things continue to change throughout the Panhandle," Crist said.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole said he had asked the spill response unified command in Roberts, La. to make more boom available to the state. "It is my belief the Coast Guard and BP will react accordingly," Sole said.

Also, Crist said he is requesting a federal declaration of a fisheries disaster in response to the oil spill moving closer to Florida's shores. NOAA has expanded the closed area to now include 31 percent of federal waters in the Gulf including areas about 50 miles off the western Panhandle.

The governor also said that once the oil hits, the state may have to modify the state's advertising campaign that Florida beaches have been untouched by the oil. "Obviously we have to have truth in advertising," he said. "So we want to make sure that if it does come on shore, we redirect the message so it is appropriate and it is accurate and that it discusses where it is, and maybe more importantly, where it is not."

Sole said he is not aware of any request to use chemical dispersants against the oil approaching Florida in state or federal waters. He said the dispersants typically don't work against weathered oil in the form of tar balls and tar mats.

(Story provided by The Florida Tribune. Photo and story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting

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