As dime to five inch-sized tar balls and tar "patties" continue to slowly inundate the Northwest Florida coastline, officials with the United States Coast Guard, British Petroleum, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the State of Florida and local governments are continuing their efforts to assist in protecting our beaches.
Across the Florida Panhandle, over 350 boats are being deployed within the Vessel of Opportunity program to assist in the clean-up efforts.
According to DEP, the Perdido Pass, Pensacola Pass and Destin Pass will be closed with the tide in order to reduce the amount of oil attempting to enter inland waters. To assist in this effort, boom will be deployed across each pass during an incoming tide, and then, retracted during an outgoing tide.
Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) oil plume model indicates that an oil plume is remaining stationary 17 miles off the coastline of Panama City and 227 miles from St. Petersburg. The near shore trajectories show that direct onshore impacts are likely to continue into Walton County through Thursday.
To provide to you the most recent information on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, I have also included for you below, a newly released statement, which offers more details on the oil spill, wind projections and clean-up efforts.
Thanks very much to all those who are working so hard to protect Florida beaches during this tragedy. As more information becomes available, we will continue to notify you.
Senator Don Gaetz
State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is at a Level 1 (FULL) activation level. SEOC operations personnel are now manning 24 hours in support of night time skimming/cleanup ops. Today is DAY 22 of Hurricane Season.
STATE EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM (SERT) RECONNAISSANCE: Five SCAT teams are deployed across Escambia through Bay counties. The product hitting Florida beaches continues to be mostly in the form of tar balls, in a highly weathered condition with occasional widely scattered light sheen offshore. Recon teams are working with counties and cleanup crews to ramp up night-time response. Impacts are expected to continue through Fridayfor the western counties (Escambia through Bay.) Beaches generally remain clear to small patches of isolated light tar balls with ten incidents of medium to heavy tar balls found from Escambia to Bay counties.
The loop ring has reconnected to the loop current. While NOAA has suspended its daily trajectory report of product in the loop ring, as none has been found over the last several days, Florida will continue to provide reconnaissance for any product that may appear in the current.
WEATHER CONDITIONS TODAY: Winds have shifted to out of the east to southeast at 10-15 knots today. This pattern should stay in place with southeasterly winds through Saturday. Forecast winds expected to shift to out of the ESE on Friday. Swells have begun to shift to out of the southeast which will push product back to the north and west. .
SERT is watching: A STRONG TROPICAL WAVE OVER THE CENTRAL CARIBBEAN SEA IS PRODUCING A LARGE AREA OF DISORGANIZED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS OVER PORTIONS OF THE CENTRAL CARIBBEAN AND THE ADJACENT LAND AREAS. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS APPEAR TO BE CONDUCIVE FOR GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT AND A TROPICAL DEPRESSION COULD FORM DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. REGARDLESS OF DEVELOPMENT...LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL AND GUSTY WINDS ARE POSSIBLE OVER PORTIONS OF PUERTO RICO...THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC... HAITI...AND JAMAICA DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO AS IT MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT ABOUT 10 MPH. THERE IS A MEDIUM CHANCE...40 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.
SERT ACTIVITIES: USCG Commander Joe Boudrow, Deputy Incident Commander for Florida, is coordinating response with local and state partners.
Skimmers (offshore, near shore, inshore and quiet water) continue to work across the region. Additional quiet water skimmers are being deployed for bay and inlet clean up operations. A total of 20 skimmers and 128 additional vessels are conducting skimming operations from Dauphin Island, AL to Panama City, FL. Approximately 2000 cleanup workers are deployed across the Florida counties. Closing and booming Perdido, Pensacola, and Destin East Passes at incoming tide continues. Staging and deployment of boom in counties to the east including Franklin and Wakulla counties is ongoing. SERT is aiming to have 200% of needed boom staged across the area so that there is adequate supply for maintenance, repair or replacement of damaged equipment.
The Florida National Guard is deploying 20 additional ATV personnel to work in Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties. Those assets will be on site on Wednesday. In addition, the FLNG mobile operations center is now deployed in Escambia County.
The SEOC will stage a hurricane emergency drill on Wednesday to test the strategy to run the Deepwater Horizon and Hurricane SEOC operations from adjoining buildings (Sadowski and EOC). The purpose of the drill is to assure that the DH response teams can migrate to the adjoining building with appropriate equipment and communications to maintain the DH response while launching a hurricane response capability from the SEOC. The "tandem" approach has been developed as a contingency for the possibility of dealing with two emergency responses simultaneously.
HEALTH: Authorization has been given for in-situ burning operations in inshore Florida waters. No operations are contemplated at this time. Should any operations be proposed, local air quality advisories will be issued to the public. Efforts are underway to increase seafood laboratory and air quality testing capacity.
· Feinberg process will be for individuals and businesses. Standards for that process will be developed and published in the near future. People should continue to file claims and not wait for the new standards to be developed. Those standards will overlay the already filed claims and hopefully things will transition smoothly.
·Local, Tribal and State Governments will continue to file claims with BP. That process is laid out on the BP website and will not change. There is a "fact sheet" on the website that answers questions for government claims. BP has created a specific "Public Entity" claims team to deal with government claims. The phone # for that team is 302-476-7732.
·At this time, there is not a lot of guidance about what documentation is needed for government claims. Governments should speak directly with the claims team for clarification on those issues.
·For reimbursement of future costs, governments must submit budgets to BP for approval. (Not clear if this included clean-up and recovery costs). The goal is to try to maximize pre-approval of expenses so that there will be less concern about reimbursement in the future.
STATE FISHERIES: A Fishing Advisory for four western most counties (Escambia to Walton) in state waters urges caution when harvesting fish in vicinity of oil product. Seafood harvesting remains closed in state waters (water's edge out to nine miles) from the water tower on Pensacola Beach westward to the Alabama/Florida border effective 12 AM, June 14, 2010. Harvesting in bays is not affected at this time. Tissue sampling continues to ensure safety of harvested product.
Rumor control continues to be a critical component of the SEOC response. Please check all information before passing it along. Our beaches are open, teams are stopping, or cleaning up, the oil as it arrives on Florida shores, and we should not think in terms of "a tidal wave" of oil, but in terms of manageable amounts of oil arriving in weathered condition, and there is a plan for containment and clean up in place and it is being activated.
FLORIDA'S BEAUTIFUL BEACHES REMAIN OPEN.
For more information about this or any other issue, please contact Senator Don Gaetz, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org letter, 4300 Legendary Drive, Suite 230, Destin, FL 32541 or call 1-866-450-4DON toll free from anywhere in Florida.