Oil spill update: $25M from BP, Brogan sets up academic task forceby Dara Kam | May 4th, 2010
The novelty of the massive oil spill in the Gulf coupled with inclement weather is posing a challenge for one of the nation’s most renowned emergency operations units.
Florida’s emergency management division, considered a model for the rest of the nation, has a long history of preparing for and responding to natural disasters, especially hurricanes.
But the mammoth surface spill and incessant pumping of up to 210,000 gallons per day of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico is an unaccustomed catastrophe, more unpredictable than the “skinny lines” meteorologists use to predict where hurricanes might land.
“As you’ve all seen the trajectory, this oil spill continues to go back east, west, north, south. This is going to be the pattern for the rest of the spill duration. I want you all to know that,” Department of Environmental Protection emergency response director Doug White.
“This spill is not like a storm, what we’re all used to where we have a nice path, where at least we have an idea where it might go. This spill can go anywhere. This spill can even wind up might even, eventually, maybe down in the Keys or on the east coast of Florida. But at this time it’s rolling around in the Gulf.”
Emergency managers are trying to figure out how much boom – the plastic protective barrier designed to contain the spill – the state has and how much coastal counties all the way around the peninsula might need.
A British Petroleum representative said at a morning briefing at state emergency operations headquarters in Tallahassee that workers laid only 3,500 feet of boom off Florida’s Panhandle shoreline yesterday because of bad weather.
Today, disaster workers hope to place 10 times that amount. The state has 57,700 feet of boom available at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, another 17,000 on deck in Panama City and 25,000 on order.
In the meantime, the head of the state university system Frank Brogan created an academic task force to aid local, state and federal agencies handling the oil spill and clean-up.
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the presumptive Democratic candidate for governor, yesterday asked for a workgroup of environmental experts to help the state respond to what could be the biggest economic crisis in the Florida’s history, according to Sink.
Sink, her likely GOP opponent in the general election for governor Attorney General Bill McCollum and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole joined Gov. Charlie Crist in a visit to the Mobile Unified Command center in Alabama this morning.
There, Crist announced that BP is giving Florida $25 million to pay the state’s preparation and clean-up efforts. Federal law requires that the oil company pick up the tab for recovery.