Latest Oil Spill Info
May 16, 2010
Here is the latest Deepwater Horizon oil spill information specific to Escambia County:
- According to the NOAA oil plume model, the oil spill is 75 miles southwest of Pensacola.
- No surface oil is expected on Escambia County shores within the next 72 hours.
- On Thursday, May 13, three, very small, dime sized tar balls were reported by the state in the Perdido Key area. The state reported these tar balls as a very minor incident and could not confirm that they were related to this incident. For more information, please contact the Northwest Florida Department of Environmental Protection Emergency Response at (850) 595-8300.
- Tar balls are fragments or lumps of oil weathered to a semi-sold or solid consistency, feel sticky, and are difficult to remove from contaminated surfaces. If you observe any evidence of oil on Florida’s coastline, report the incident to 1-866-448-5816.
- The Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center has reported that the half-dozen golf ball size tar balls that washed ashore on Dauphin Island beaches on Saturday, May 8, are believed to be from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
- No information has been provided on the tar balls reported on Gulf Shores beaches and No tar balls have been reported in Escambia County, Florida.
British Petroleum (BP)
- BP has reported over 1,000 claims in the state with $194,000 paid to date to Floridians.
- There are over 1,500 participants in the Vessels of Opportunity Program in Florida with 382 signed contracts and 106 contract activations.
- The Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center has asked that the public help in monitoring boom along the Gulf Coast. Boaters are requested to report sightings of broken, disconnected or adrift boom and are asked to keep their distance from boom especially at night or in conditions of restricted visibility. Please report damaged, vandalized, adrift or stolen boom to: 1-866-448-5816
- To better serve our citizens with their claims, BP has moved the claims office to 3960 W. Navy Boulevard, Suite 16. The office is currently open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, until further notice. Although completely functional, please be patient while the office is being fully developed.
- BP recommends anyone with a claim call 1-800-440-0858 to help expedite the process. By calling the claims number, adjusters at the claims office will have the information prior to your visit.
- The BP community outreach office is still open for citizens at 435 East Government Street. Representatives are available to answer any questions on volunteering, vessels of opportunity program, or any other oil spill related questions. The local phone number is (850) 912-8640 and the fax number is (850) 912-8755.
- The second training class for Vessels of Opportunity was held Tuesday for licensed charter boat captains. To pick up or deliver completed packets, visit BP’s Community Outreach office at 435 East Government Street. For information, call 281-366-5511.
- BP Vessels of Opportunity – see the master vessel charter agreement and vessel requirements checklist online www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.
- Approximately 175,950 feet of boom has been placed out of the Pensacola and Panama City staging areas in support of Unified Command.
- BP officials request residents be wary of scam artists posing as BP contractors. Do not sign any documents in return from money from BP or anyone else until you know the extent of your loss. BP officials carry proper identification badges or business cards.
- BP does not use contractors to contact or solicit volunteers for cleanup. All training offered by BP is free. There are no fees for classes or registration.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research who is contracted by BP to provide assistance to oiled wildlife. All rehabilitation efforts must be coordinated through the service and Tri-State. 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 at 1-866-557-1401.
- NOAA modified and expanded the boundaries of the closed fishing area to better reflect the current location of the oil spill, and extended the fishing restriction until May 17. See details.
State of Florida (DEP, FWC)
- The fisheries, wildlife and seafood off of Florida’s coast in state waters are safe and there are no alerts at this time.
- Florida saltwater fishing regulations remain in effect as usual
- Governor Crist announces U.S. Small Business Administration approval of disaster loan programs for Gulf Coast businesses. Economic Injury Disaster loans can help eligible small businesses meet the necessary financial obligations they could have met, had the disaster not occurred. Interest rates for businesses and small agricultural cooperatives are as low as four percent, and for non-profit organizations rates are as low as three percent, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. Loan applications for economic injury can be filed until the close of business on February 14, 2011. In response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Florida is providing video and audio Public Service Announcements. These items, available for download, can be used to educate the public on response, safety, coast watch and beach cleanup. .
- Report boom vandalism to the Florida State Warning Point (800) 320-0519 or dial #DEP from your cell phone.
- Governor Crist announced today the activation of the Florida Oil Spill Information line which will serve as another resource to provide Florida residents and visitors with up-to-date information on Florida’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The line will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week until further notice.
- + Florida Oil Spill Information Line – 888-337-3569
- Governor Charlie Crist has issued an executive order creation an Economic Recovery Task Force to facilitate efforts by Florida businesses and industries in recovering from the loss of business and revenues due to the Deepwater Horizon incident.
- A Legal Advisory Council has been established to assess the impact the potential disaster could have on the state.
- DEP Guidelines for Protecting Shoreline from Oil Spill Impacts
- Homeowners may be able to help prevent oil from reaching private property or damaging sensitive vegetation by utilizing sorbent booms.
- Booming and alternative absorption measures should be coordinated through Escambia County as incorrect boom placement in navigable waterways can create a serious hazard.
- Coordination with state and local entities is important to ensure that booming or alternative measures being used do not impede navigation and are not more harmful to the natural environment in the long-run.
- If a boom is placed by a private citizen, that individual assumes responsibility for the boom, including the chance it could dislodge into the water or be harmful to wildlife.
- Booms placed by private citizens that become impacted by oil are the responsibility of that individual and require special authorization for removal and proper disposal.
- Do not place hay bales, sandbags or other unapproved devices along the shoreline, as the overall debris from disposal of such methods would increase and could cause serious long-term damage.
- Do not attempt to clean impacted beaches or attempt to rescue oiled wildlife. Touching oil is a health risk and disposing of it improperly could cause additional environmental damage.
- Authorized protective measures should be conducted in a manner that provides protection to, and does not disturb, native vegetation, species and their habitat.
- Taking or capturing any species, nests or eggs listed as an endangered species is not permitted.
- For more information on types of protective measures, contact BP’s community information line, 1-866-448-5816.
- The Florida Small Business Development Center Network is part of the state’s EOC Emergency Support Function as a responder for assistance in business recovery. The Mobile Area Commands are fully self-contained and staffed by SBDC Certified Business Analysts experienced in assisting businesses impacted by disasters, including assistance with federal and state disaster loan programs. MACs have been deployed in Escambia County. SBDC staff are meeting with area business leaders and available to provide technical assistance to local businesses. For more information, please visit www.floridasbdc.org/Special Programs/bcrm.asp
- The seafood off Florida’s coast in state waters are safe. There are no health alerts at this time.
- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has temporarily suspended the restriction on use of purse seines landward of the COLRGEGS demarcation line in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
- Affected businesses should file a claim with BP via the hotline number, 800-440-0858. Additional guidance to help small businesses survive a disaster can be found at www.MyFloridaCFO.com or by calling 850-413-3089 or toll-free 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).
- The state emergency operations center remains at a level 2 activation.
Escambia County Board of County Commissioners and Staff
- On inland waters (bays, bayous, estuaries, rivers), private property owners may install oil absorbent material, booms or fences on private property above the mean high waterline (MHWL) only. No material may be installed or sprayed below the MHWL.
- On gulf-front property, the use of silt fences, obstructions, hay bales, peat, surfactants or other material is not approved. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is the permitting agency for beaches and coastal systems. No obstructions to sea turtle nesting behavior is allowed.
- If citizens see anything unusual on the beaches they feel needs to be reported:
- Contact the Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce at 850-492-4660 on Perdido Key
- Report to the lifeguards on duty on Pensacola Beach
- Deflective boom – large floating barriers that help contain floating oil – has been deployed around sensitive shorelines.
- Boom has been deployed in all locations of the Local Action Plan and Addendum One. Staff continues to evaluate areas and is monitoring all deployed boom.
- To keep waterways open as long as possible, boom will be “wet staged” at some locations. When floating petroleum becomes an imminent threat, boom will be fully deployed. “Fully deployed boom” is described as boom anchored into a functional configuration.
- Environmental staff completed collecting sediment, water and oyster tissue samples and have sent them to a lab for analysis. Staff also completed pre-assessments on air quality.
- Escambia County is evaluating several operational options from contractors for coastal protection and recovery. The county is considering every viable proposal, coordinating with Unified Command and will share information as it is approved.
- A PowerPoint of oil spill response strategies is posted at www.escambiadisasterresponse.com.
- Pteropods, also known as the sea butterfly, have been reported washing ashore on gulf beaches. Pteropods are small, basically clear and sharply pointed larval snails. Although they are fairly sharp, they do not pose a threat to people. They are naturally occurring and not washing ashore due to anything oil-related.
- Residents and business owners with water access on their property should have pre-assessments prepared (photos, video, etc. documenting the current condition of the property).
- 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.
- The EOC remains at level 2 activation. This is a minimal activation with only specifically involved agencies. Meetings of all essential local emergency support agencies are held daily.
- Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key remain open. The water is clear and air quality is good.
- SRIA lifeguards continue patrolling beaches for oil from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- In the event beaches are impacted by the oil spill, it may be necessary to issue health advisories to protect health and safety.
- The Florida Department of Health will issue advisories as they become necessary for the area of affected water and shoreline.
- Beaches above the high tide line should remain open for sunbathing, walking, shopping and restaurants.
- The exact area for the advisories will be determined at the time oil is reported.
City of Pensacola
- The City of Pensacola continues to coordinate with Escambia County officials.
- PEC Premier, a BP contractor, will begin free six-hour para-professional training classes in Pensacola on May 17. This is not volunteer training. This course is not a guarantee of employment, but provides credentials needed to be hired for spill cleanup work by BP contractors.
- See the class schedule.
- E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
- The county has offered free volunteer orientation training for more than 900 citizens. If you completed the county’s training, your contact information has forwarded to the appropriate volunteer organizations. As the need for volunteers arises, you will be contacted.
- If you would like to be considered for future volunteer opportunities, contact the BP volunteer hotline at 1-866-448-5816.
- The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has determined volunteers cannot be used in any situation where they may come in contact with oiled shorelines or oiled wildlife.
- If you see a tar ball on the beach, DO NOT PICK IT UP. Report it to 1-866-448-5816.
- 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 1-866-557-1401. Please provide location of where the wildlife was sighted.
- Remember that May is the hatching season for many birds and reptiles.
- Boats should keep a safe distance from the booms. Do not drive boats over booms.
- Boat owners are urged to dry-dock boats.
- Do not drive your boat through slicks or sheens.
Beaches and Waterways
- 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 areas where oil can be seen or smelled. If you see or smell oil, leave 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.
- 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.
- 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 who have pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma or other respiratory illness should contact their health care provider if feeling symptomatic.
- Report oiled shorelines to 1-866-448-5816.
- Florida emergency management and economic development staff are gathering information from businesses impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Please complete their survey and help shape Florida’s response to this event. The survey will be updated periodically, so please check back, as your specific situation and information may change with time.
- BP has established a claim system and toll free number, 1-800-440-0858. This system will allow people to begin the process to recover lost income or recoup damage-related expenses.
- If you are not satisfied with BP’s resolution, 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.
- Take detailed records of cancelled reservations. It is important that when these cancellations occur, the canceling party is questioned whether the cause is because of the oil spill. If the answer is yes, keep a record of the person’s name and contact information, and also the revenues lost as a result of the cancellation.
- Businesses, including shops, restaurants, sport fishing charters, watersports rental companies, etc. that may be negatively impacted, are asked to keep detailed profit and loss records should a claim need to be presented.
- Calculate estimated losses for a six-week period and be able to provide records, sales receipts and documentation to support your claim. One good option is to compare business to a five-year average of revenues between May and June, which can offer insight as to the damages incurred.
- Make a detailed list of assets, including non-structural, and include appropriate records to support the list. Example: if your hotel or restaurant is within walking distance to the beach and that beach has oil reach its shores, the business’s assets could be damaged even though there is no physical damage to the structure. It is important to record this depreciation.
- To register as a consultant, contractor, vendor or submit information on alternative response technology, services products or suggestions, call BP at 281-366-5511.
- The Citizen Information Center line remains open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 850-471-6600.
- Florida Oil Spill Information Line is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, 1-888-337-3569.