Latest Update: Gulf Oil Spill

May 5, 2010

Escambia County, BP, Florida and the federal government continued efforts to plan ahead to protect the county’s shores. Tuesday morning Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (pictured at the Escambia Emergency Operations Center), took an aerial tour over the Gulf of Mexico.

Here is the latest update on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with information specific to Escambia County:

Actions by Escambia County Board of County Commissioners and Staff

  • The Local Area Plan has been approved by Secretary Sole for funding.
  • Deployment locations have been approved by Unified Command.
  • Residents and business owners with any water access on their property should have pre-assessments prepared now (photos, video, anything documenting the current condition of your property).
  • $1.2 million spent to date of limited county reserve funds with the need to spend much more.
  • The brown foam seen on the beaches recently is not associated with the oil spill. This is a common natural occurrence especially in the spring when fish are spawning and there are hard winds, rain, and wave action.
  • Escambia County, Florida beaches remain open at this time.
  • In the Monday morning press conference, Commission Chairman Grover C. Robinson IV expressed to staff and media that Escambia County is doing everything possible to respond to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.
  • The volunteer pre-cleanups on Sunday had 600 at Pensacola Beach and 350 at Perdido Key.
  • Escambia County ordered 20,000 linear feet of boom for staging as gaps are identified.
  • Officials continue to monitor coastlines.
  • VeruTEK Technologies demonstrated an environmentally friendly solution that helps break up the oil to PBS&J, one of Escambia County’s contractors. The next step is for the company to present this to Unified Command as an option for oil spill cleanup.
  • A community meeting of Escambia and Santa Rosa County staff, Santa Rosa Island Authority members and officials from DEP and BP will meet at the Pensacola Beach Community Church (916 Panferio Drive) on Monday at 2 p.m.
  • SRIA lifeguards began a 24/7 watch for oil approaching the shoreline this afternoon, Sunday, May 2.
  • The EOC remains at level 2 activation. This is a minimal activation with only specifically involved agencies activating at this time.
  • Meetings of all essential local emergency support agencies are being held daily.
  • Pre-qualified contractors and consultants are coordinating with county staff on the disaster response.
  • Environmental staff is continuing assessments of pre-oil spill conditions and performing aerial assessment.
  • Public Works staff is conducting a pre-assessment of roadways and parking areas near water access points, in the event of damages during long term recovery.
  • Environmental staff are confirming pre-assessments on air and water quality, and identifying any gaps.
  • County officials continue working through state and federal channels to establish a process for resources and equipment.
  • Proactive efforts continue as contractors work to place deflective boom, large floating barriers that help contain floating oil, around sensitive shorelines in Escambia County.
  • Emergency Management officials continue to communicate with the State of Florida liaison at unified command.
  • County staff is continuing to coordinate with the Santa Rosa Island Authority on equipment necessary for the response effort.
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff are mapping the locations to determine the amount of boom that is still needed.
  • County staff is continuing to coordinate with the Escambia County Health Department on health and safety information.
  • The Perdido Landfill coordinated with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and is prepared to accept oil contaminated sand and materials from commercial haulers.
  • Emergency management has been in contact with the Visitor’s Information Center to encourage businesses to track losses.
  • A local state of emergency was declared by the Board of County Commissioners at an emergency meeting at 2 p.m. Friday, April 30.
  • The emergency operation center activated to a level 2 on Saturday, May 1.

BP Actions

  • BP released that 91,300 feet of boom have been deployed in the Pensacola Bay area.
  • BP Officials want everyone to be aware of scam artists posing as BP contractors.
  • BP is handling volunteer registration. Anyone interested in helping, should use the toll free number to register, 1-866-448-5816. They do not use contractors to contact or solicit anyone to volunteer for cleanup, nor will they ever ask for any kind of advance fee from you.
  • Training offered by BP and Escambia County is free. There are no fees for classes or registration. The training is for participation in clean up of hazardous materials that may wash ashore.
  • BP officials carry proper identification badges or business cards.
  • Boom has been placed at the following sites:
    • Sabine Bay (Big & Little)
    • Fort Pickens Aquatic Preserve
    • Big Lagoon Shoreline
    • Gulf Island National Seashore
    • Tarkiln Bayou
    • Tarkiln Bayou State Park
    • Gulf Island National Seashore Big Lagoon
    • Gulf Island National Seashore Fort Pickens
    • Innerarity Point
    • Big Lagoon State Park
    • Fort Pickens (Intertidal Lakes)
    • Santa Rosa Island Gulf Island National Seashore
    • Boom to be placed at the following sites
    • Recreational Beaches (Gulf side)
    • Sherman Cove
    • Bayou Chico West
    • Dead Mans Island
    • Southern Bayou Texar
    • Southern Shore Bayou Grande Marsh
    • Bayou Grande
  • The Governor stated that BP has put up a $25 million Block Grant for the State of Florida.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research (Tri-State) who is contracted by British Petroleum to provide assistance to oiled wildlife. The service recognizes Tri-State’s expertise in wildlife oil spill response, and while many wildlife organizations and individuals have expressed interest in providing their assistance, all rehabilitation efforts must be coordinated through the service and Tri-State. Coordination is vitally important for recovery and research efforts, and specific safety and other requirements must be met before anyone will be allowed on-site for any participation. If you already have wildlife training, call BP with 1-866-557-1401.
  • 19,000 ft. of boom was placed today in Escambia County.
  • 30,000 ft. of boom are on order.

Federal Actions

  • Congressman Jeff Miller addressed staff and media at a news conference at the Emergency Operations Center on Monday.
  • The congressman flew over the oil spill off Mobile on Monday.
  • The President has been asked to put emergency supplemental resources in place.
  • BP is the company of record responsible for the payment of this disaster.
  • Congressman Miller will ask BP to put an escrow account in place, with a substantial amount of funds that can be drawn against.
  • On May 2, NOAA restricted fishing for a minimum of ten days in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay. Effective immediately. Details: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.

State of Florida

  • The State of Florida has announced that BP has agreed to set up an additional command center in St. Petersburg
  • Governor met with EOC staff and media on Tuesday.
  • DEP has conducted water and sediment sampling to use as a baseline for ongoing monitoring.
  • There is approximately 87,800 feet of boom placed along Florida’s panhandle (not just Escambia County).
  • An additional 19,000 feet are being placed with 58,400 feet staged and an additional 60,000 feet on order.
  • The booming strategy focuses on identified environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Estuaries and inlets are top priority to protect sensitive habitat that support wildlife and fish.
  • Resources are currently staged throughout the Panhandle in preparation for a response for our area.
  • At this time, there are no indications of health risks to Floridians due to the Deepwater Horizon incident. The Department of Health (DOH) and DEP are closely monitoring health and environmental impacts to Florida’s beaches and will notice an advisory if conditions become unsafe.
  • Those near Florida’s Gulf Coast may detect an odor because of the oil spill. Some people are more sensitive to these odors and may experience nasal irritation and feelings of nausea. In combination with seasonal allergies, such as sensitivity to pollen or pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, some people may experience more severe symptoms.
  • Individuals experiencing symptoms that are aggravated by the odors from the oil spill should consider: staying indoors, in air conditioning, and avoiding strenuous outdoor activity. If symptoms do not improve, contact a primary care physician or other health care provider for medical advice.
  • Individuals who have pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma or other respiratory illness should contact their health care provider if feeling symptomatic.
  • The Attorney General’s office reported instances of fraud from companies claiming to be working with BP to set up training classes and asking people to pay up front. The training classes for oil cleanup being offered through Escambia County are free and available to those that have registered. If you feel that you have been approached fraudulently, please call the Attorney General’s Office fraud hotline at 1-866-966-7226.
  • CFO Alex Sink also addressed staff and media at a news conference at the Emergency Operations Center Monday.
  • The state reserve is at $200 million.
  • Businesses are asked to track all expenses for reimbursements later due to property damage.
  • Ms. Sink will call upon the federal Small Business Administration to make grants and loans available, and the state emergency fund to make funds available for the marine and tourism businesses.
  • County Commissioners and staff participated in a DEP briefing with Governor Charlie Crist on Saturday, May 1.
  • A state of emergency was declared by Governor Crist on Friday, April 30.
  • The state emergency operations center remains at a level 2 activation.

Santa Rosa Island Authority

  • SRIA, Escambia County, DEP and BP officials held a meeting with concerned residents and business owners at Pensacola Beach Community Church on Monday.
  • SRIA held an emergency board meeting Monday at 5 p.m. to discuss the disaster response.

City of Pensacola

  • The City of Pensacola has not spent any monies yet.
  • The city has pledged its port, staff and resources to handle issues as they arise.
  • The city will do everything possible to protect Bayou Texar and Bayou Chico.

Volunteer Opportunities & Training

BP trained 86 volunteers Tuesday.

  • All training classes for the week of May 3 are currently full. Notification will be made as additional classes become available.
  • Approximately 100 volunteers were trained at BP’s two 4-hour health and safety training classes held on Monday, May 3.
  • All BP health and safety training classes are currently full. New classes are being posted. If you are on a waiting list, you will be notified.
  • This is for the health and safety training for handling petroleum contaminated materials.
  • This is not training for handling oiled wildlife.

Safety Messages

  • Wildlife
    • Do not attempt to rescue oiled or injured birds or wildlife. Doing so can cause additional injuries.
    • If oiled, injured or dead wildlife are found, call the Oiled Wildlife hotline at 866-557-1401, please provide location of where the wildlife was sighted.
    • May is the hatching season for many birds and reptiles. Please use the toll free number above.
  • Boats
    • Boats should keep a safe distance from any of the booms. Do not drive boats over any booms.
    • Boat owners are urged to dry-dock boats.
  • Beaches and Waterways
    • Residents should NOT to place any materials on the beach, such as pine straw.
    • Citizens should take precautions around waterways to avoid contact with oil substances.
    • Officials are closely monitoring potential public health and environmental concerns.
  • Personal Safety (if areas are affected by oil)
    • Avoid entering areas where oil can be seen or smelled. If you see or smell oil, leave the area immediately.
    • Avoid direct skin contact with oil, oil-contaminated water and sediments.
    • Do not swim or ski in areas affected by the oil spill, and if you travel through the area by boat, take precautions when hoisting the boat anchor. If you get oil on your skin, wash it off immediately with soap and water.
    • Do not fish in the oil spill-affected waters.
    • Do not harvest and eat dead fish, fish with oily residue or fish that have a petroleum odor.
    • Do not drive your boat through slicks or sheens.
    • Young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and individuals with underlying respiratory conditions should avoid the area.
    • Restrict pets from entering oil-contaminated areas.
    • Report oiled shorelines to 866-448-5816. Report oiled wildlife to 866-557-1401.

Businesses Information

  • The Vessels of Opportunities Program is looking to contract shrimp boats, oyster boats and other vessels for hire to deploy boom in the Gulf of Mexico. Call 281-366-5511.
  • BP has established a claim system and toll free number, 800-440-0858. This system will allow people to being to process to recover lost income or recoup damage related expenses.
  • If you are not satisfied with BP’s resolution, there is an additional avenue for assistance available through the Coast Guard once BP has finalized your claim. Those who have already pursued the BP claims process can call the Coast Guard at 1-800-280-7118.
  • More information about what types of damages are eligible for compensation under the Oil Pollution Act as well as guidance on procedures to seek that compensation can be found at www.uscg.mil/npfc.
  • To register as a consultant, contractor, vendor or submit information on alternative response technology, services products or suggestions, call BP at 281-366-5511.
  • Businesses, including hoteliers, sport fishing charters, watersports rental companies, etc., that may be negatively impacted are asked to keep detailed profit and loss records and track any cancellations, should a claim need to be presented.

Citizen Information

  • The Citizen Information Center phone is open for questions from residents, 850-471-6600.

Contact Numbers

  • Volunteer Hotline: 1-866-448-5816
  • Transocean hotline: 832-587-8554
  • MI Swaco hotline: 888-318-6765
  • BP Investor Relations: 381-366-3123
  • BP family hotline: 281-366-5578
  • BP third party contractor hotline: 281-366-5578

Comments

3 Responses to “Latest Update: Gulf Oil Spill”

  1. T on May 6th, 2010 9:04 am

    We know that everyone is working hard to correct this terrible disaster, our prayes are with you all during this. We do not have the training and ability to help out but can offer our prayers. We have reservations in June in Panama City Beach and are wondering what we should do. I do have asthma and allergies and am worried that it may not be safe by that time. Can anyone advise us on if we should go ahead and make other plans? i know this is of little importance now with all that is at risk with the sea life and enviroment. I feel so sad for everyone there. The Gulf is such a beautiful place.

  2. Gretchen Falk on May 5th, 2010 8:01 am

    I live in Lee County, Florida and I am usually the person people call if there is wildlife in distress on my island of North Captiva. I want training. If trained I will go where needed now and return to my island when needed.

  3. Fred Rhine on May 5th, 2010 6:20 am

    I would to know if BP is going to be holding classes for Bay,Gulf,Franklin,counties.we have no time waste!





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