Unified Command Activated for Florida's West Coast
In response to the possibility of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill affecting the West Coast of Florida, representatives from BP, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are meeting to plan a multi-agency response, the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center reported Wednesday.
Working together, the agencies have reviewed the area contingency plan and ensured all partners have access to, and are familiar with the plan.
In meetings over the last couple days, the Coast Guard and Florida DEP have spoken with trustees from various national and state wildlife refugee areas, along with every county emergency management office on the West Coast of Florida.
The agencies also met with over 30 members of non-governmental environmental organizations such as Tampa Bay Watch, Save our Seabirds, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, and the Sierra Club.
The latest predictions from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), indicate no impact to the western coast of Florida, from Taylor County to Collier County within the next 72 hours.
"We are standing up a unified command, consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Department of Environmental Protections and BP, to facilitate planning and identify resource requirements to ensure a robust multi-agency response," said Capt. Tim Close, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. "We are planning for the worst case, but hopeful any impact will be substantially less than that, if at all."