BP too slow on oil spill? Crist says state needs to move: ‘We can send them a bill.’by Dara Kam | May 3rd, 2010
State officials are preparing for what could be the nation’s worst oil spill in recent history to reach Florida shores.
But Gov. Charlie Crist said he is worried about whether the corporation responsible for the disaster is doing everything it can Florida.
Under federal law created after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, BP is responsible for the cleanup and mitigation of the rapidly growing oil leak, now more than 600 miles in circumference, looming off Florida’s Panhandle coastline.
“But my concern is we need to be a responsible country…We can send them a bill later,” Crist told reporters at a noon briefing at state emergency operations headquarters. “It creates a significant concern that the party who created the problem is now the party that’s responsible for solving the problem. I get that. That’s why I’m here.”
Crist dispatched Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole to the Deepwater Horizon incident command center in Mobile over the weekend. Crist toured Pensacola on Saturday and Sunday and said he plans to return tomorrow.
“The message that was sent from me through the secretary to the (Coast Guard) was that we need to stand up and get more aggressive about this,” Crist said.
Most important is for BP to stop the release of the oil, now pumping at least 210,000 gallons into the Gulf of Mexico each day, said Sole.
“If this is not plugged, this is merely going to grow and the need to protect all of Florida shorelines, not just the Panhandle will as well,” Sole said.
Crist said the state should “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
“I want us to be prepared. I don’t want us to be on our heels. I want to make sure we’re leaning forward. I want to make sure that we’re in front of this thing as much as we possibly can,” he said.
But how much the state can prepare for what could be an economic nightmare for coastal communities is questionable.
Officials have already set up nearly 90,000 feet of boom in Escambia County to protect inlets and estuaries. But they have only 58,000 more feet available and another 60,000 feet on order. And the protective barriers won’t be used to protect beaches because, Sole said, that would be futile.
BP officials will next week try to collect the oil pluming out of the Deepwater Horizon well with a dome, a process that has worked in the past, Sole said with a caveat.
“Unfortunately, it’s never been tried at 5000 feet below the surface of the water,” he said.
If that doesn’t work, it could take two to three months for the petroleum giant to construct a relief well to stop the flow.
“Now I hope that they plug the hole. I hope that they stop the spewing out of the Gulf. I hope that the wind doesn’t change and it doesn’t head to our shores,” Crist said.