Florida Panhandle Battles 2 Massive Oil Plumes

FL nearshore trajectory June 13, 2010

Perdido Pass and Pensacola Pass closed with the tide on Friday.

Florida Outlines Response to BP Gulf Oil Spill for June 13, 2010

By GovMonitor

Heavy impacts, in addition to tar balls and tar patties, have not been reported in Florida at this time.

A large plume of weathered oil has been detected nine miles south of Pensacola Pass. The plume is two miles wide and goes south for 40 miles. An additional plume of non-weathered oil was verified through state reconnaissance data.

The second plume is located three miles south of Pensacola Pass. Response assets, including skimming vessels, have been dispatched to the area.

On June 12, dime to five inch-sized tar balls and tar patties were found in areas from the Alabama/Florida state line east to Walton County. Tar ball and tar patty findings are more concentrated in the western-most Florida counties. Clean up teams continue to be on scene.

Perdido Pass and Pensacola Pass will be closed with the tide to prevent oil from entering inland waters. Boom will be deployed across each Pass at flood tide (water coming in) and removed at ebb tide (water going out).

  • Boaters in areas where skimming is being conducted, or where boom has been set, have been requested to maintain no-wake speeds.
  • Based on oil activity recently, the United States Coast Guard’s Captain of the Port for Sector Mobile authorized the official closure of Perdido Pass and most recently, Pensacola Pass. Each pass will be manned to allow access to necessary vessel traffic. Perdido Pass and Pensacola Pass will be open for vessel traffic during low tide. See NOAA tide predictions.
  • Boat traffic needing access in or out of boom locations, should call 1-850-736-2261.
  • A flashing light has been attached to all boom to increase visibility to boaters.

According to NOAA projections, additional impacts are expected throughout northwest Florida within the next 72 hours due to onshore winds.

This forecast is based on the NWS spot forecast from Saturday, June 12 PM. Currents were obtained from several models (NOAA Gulf of Mexico, West Florida Shelf/USF, NAVO/NRL) and HFR measurements. The model was initialized from Saturday satellite imagery analysis (NOAA/NESDIS) and overflight observations. The leading edge may contain tarballs that are not readily observable from the imagery (hence not included in the model initialization). Oil near bay inlets could be brought into that bay by local tidal currents.

Winds this weekend are forecast to be variable and less than 10 knots. By Monday night, onshore (predominantly SSE/SE winds) are expected to resume with speeds of 6-10 kts. Persistent onshore winds have resulted in northward movement of the slick towards the Mississippi/Alabama barrier islands and the Florida Panhandle. Coastal regions in Mississippi Sound west of Freeport may continue to experience shoreline contacts throughout this forecast period. Persistent southeasterly winds are also resulting in movement of oil towards the Chandeleur Islands, Breton Sound, and the Mississippi Delta. These region are also threatened by shoreline contacts within this forecast period.

Escambia County Health Department issued a health advisory for the area extending from the Florida-Alabama line to the entrance of the Perdido Unit, Gulf Islands National Seashore. See map below for full details.

At this time, there are no beach closures and Florida’s state waters remain open to recreational fishing. Florida’s 825 miles of beaches, 1,260 miles of coastline and 14 seaports, including cruise ships, remain open for business.

The majority of impacts to Florida’s shoreline will likely be highly weathered, in the form of tar balls, oil sheen, tar mats or mousse – a pudding-like oil/water mixture that could be brown, rust or orange in color.

  • Observations by NOAA continue to indicate no significant amounts of oil moving toward the Loop Current. The Loop Current Ring, a circular current which was formerly part of the Loop Current and contains a small portion of oil slick in the form of light sheens, has slightly reattached to the main Loop Current after previously pinching off late last month. This reattachment has the potential to move a small amount of oil to the Florida Straits, but tar balls are not likely to impact the Florida Straits in the next three to four days.

There have been no reports of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill-related oil products reaching the shore beyond the northwest Florida region. There is no indication that the rest of the state will have impacts from weathered oil products within the next 72 hours.

  • NOAA projections show the patches of sheen that are currently in the Loop Current Ring will be moved westward along the bottom of the Ring, following the Ring, rather than moving toward the Florida Straits with the Loop Current. However, there is still some uncertainty with this as we move further into the forecast period.
  • Learn more at the NOAA website. If oil is sighted on Florida’s coastline report it to the State Warning Point at 1-877-2-SAVE-FL (1-877-272-8335) or by dialing #DEP from most cell phones.

On Site Actions:

  • On June 10, a team of scientists, under the direction of National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, updated their assessments of the flow rates from the Deepwater Horizon well, prior to the riser being cut on June 3. Current projections estimate Deepwater Horizon’s discharge at 12,600 to 40,000 barrels per day.
  • BP has placed a Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) Cap Containment System in an attempt to contain the leak and capture a substantial amount of the leaking oil. On June 12, 15,040 barrels of oil were captured from the LMRP Cap Containment System.
  • Meanwhile, BP is continuing efforts to drill two relief wells.
  • To discuss spill related damage with BP representatives, please call the BP Claims Reporting Line at 1-800-440-0858.

State Actions:

  • The State Emergency Operations Center is activated at Level 1.
  • On June 11, Governor Crist announced seafood licenses set to expire on July 1, 2010 are extended and the 2010 recreational harvest season for bay scallops will open nearly two weeks early.
  • On June 10, Governor Crist signed a memorandum of understanding with BP, committing an additional $25 million block grant for state preparedness and response costs to combat the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

On June 10, DEP issued an Amended Emergency Final Order to accelerate preparedness and restoration in the counties under the Governor’s state-of-emergency Executive Orders.

  • On June 10, Deepwater Horizon Unified Command announced the activation of the Florida Peninsula Command Post in Miami.
  • On June 9, FWC announced that its commissioners will hold an informal meeting in Pensacola Beach on June 15, to hear from people with fish and wildlife concerns related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
  • On June 9, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services implemented a toll-free hotline to provide consumers with information about Florida’s open and closed fishing harvest areas, the availability of seafood varieties, and general pricing information. The number is 1-800-357-4273.
  • On June 8, the Florida Department of Health issued important health information, reminding both Floridians and visitors to avoid contact with tar and oiled debris to ensure public health and safety.
  • BP has opened 10 claims offices in Florida. Visit the BP Claims Page to learn more.
  • Governor Crist has issued three Executive Orders since April 30, 2010 declaring a state of emergency in 26 coastal counties that may see impacts.
  • DEP conducted water and sediment sampling to use as a baseline and is monitoring air quality data. Statewide air quality monitoring is conducted in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more at http://www.airnow.gov/ or http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/.

Air quality reports for June 12 revealed that air quality was considered good for ozone and particulate matter in northwest Florida. “Good” means the air quality is satisfactory and air pollution poses little or no risk.

Boom Placement:

  • Approximately 291,500 feet of boom has been placed in northwest Florida along the most sensitive areas and 64,950 feet is staged. Additionally, counties in the region are moving forward with supplemental booming plans. As of June 12, 244,640 feet of supplemental boom has been deployed or staged by Florida contractors.
  • Placement of boom is based on where the oil is threatening, as well as each region’s area contingency plan.
  • On June 11, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued a reminder to all boaters to slow down where oil cleanup is underway, as failure to operate at slow speed in these areas could result in injury, damage to vessels and damage to containment boom. Learn more.

Health Effects:

  • On June 8, Escambia County Health Department, in coordination with Escambia County Emergency Management and local officials posted a health advisory for thearea extending from the Florida-Alabama state line to the entrance of the Perdido Unit, Gulf Islands National Seashore.
  • If residents or visitors see tar or oiled debris on the beach, DO NOT PICK IT UP. Report it to the Florida State Warning Point by calling #DEP from a cell phone or 1-877-2-SAVE-FL (1-877-272-8335). For most people, an occasional brief contact with a small amount of oil will do no harm, yet still it is not recommended.
For general health information questions regarding the oil-spill and exposure to oil spill products contact the Florida Poison Information Centers at 1-800-222-1222.

Fisheries & Seafood:

  • On June 8, NOAA adjusted the boundaries of the previously closed fishing area, opening 339 square miles off of northwest Florida, with the northern boundary now ending at the Florida federal-state water line on the east side of Choctawhatchee Bay. The federal closed area does not apply to state waters. Closed fishing in these areas is a precautionary measure to ensure Gulf seafood remains safe for consumers. The closed area contains 78,264 square miles, approximately 32 percent of Gulf federal waters. Learn more.
  • At this time, Florida’s state waters remain open to recreational fishing.
  • Fishermen who wish to contact BP about a claim should call 1-800-440-0858.
  • To report oiled wildlife, please call 1-866-557-1401 and leave a message. Messages are checked hourly.
  • For the safety of the public as well as the safety of animals, rescues should only be conducted by trained responders. Learn more.


Through http://www.VISITFLORIDA.com, vacationers are able to view live Twitter feeds and read up-to-the-minute information on the status of any city or region in Florida. Learn more at http://www.visitflorida.com/florida_travel_advisory/.

The Florida State Parks website, http://www.floridastateparks.org, is updated daily and will list any impacts. Learn more by calling 1-850-245-2157. Tips for Homeowners:

While the state appreciates the concern expressed by Floridians and the ingenuity of those seeking alternative measures to help protect the state’s shoreline, the following tips are offered to ensure that these measures are helpful and not harmful to Florida’s coasts, wildlife and water resources: Tips for homeowners.


Tips for Businesses and Consumers:

  • The Attorney General’s fraud hotline is open to receive any reports of fraud or price gouging. The hotline is 1-866-966-7226.
  • The Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner gas price-gouging hotline is also operational. The toll-free hotline number is 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352).
  • Coastal businesses should make loss of earnings claims for damages incurred as a result of the oil spill. Businesses should file a claim with BP by calling 1-800-440- 0858. Learn more at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/ or by calling 1-850-413-3089 or toll-free at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).

Volunteer Opportunities:

Individuals interested in volunteering can register at www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org.

  • Volunteers will not be in direct contact with oil or oil-contaminated materials.
  • The Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service – Volunteer Florida is encouraging Floridians and visitors to stay current on the latest information on scheduled beach cleanups and other local volunteer opportunities. Learn more.
  • Individuals who live along or who are visiting coastal communities are encouraged to enjoy Florida’s coastal areas while watching for oiled wildlife and shoreline. Report oiled wildlife by calling 1-866-557-1401 and report oiled shoreline in Florida by calling #DEP from a cell phone or 1-877-2-SAVE-FL (1-877-272-8335).

Learn More About Florida’s Response:

DEP in coordination with the state Emergency Operations Center established an email sign-up and a comprehensive website at http://www.deepwaterhorizonflorida.com.

For a list of Unified Command, BP and Florida phone numbers, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/default.htm#numbers.

The Oil Spill Information Line is available at 1-888-337-3569 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. seven days a week. Additional phone numbers have also been established for persons with disabilities: (800) 955-8771 (TDD) or (800) 955-8770 (voice).

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