Florida Keys Area Committee To Conduct Oil Spill Preparation Exercise

7th Coast Guard District NewsKEY WEST, Fla. — U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West, in conjunction with its port partners and key stakeholders of the Florida Keys Area Committee will a tabletop preparation exercise responding to a theoretical oil pollution event offshore of the Florida Keys on April 12.

The exercise will test several updated components of the Florida Keys Area Contingency Plan, which is the comprehensive road map for planning, organizing, and responding to a pollution incident in the Florida Keys. The simulation exercise will test the updated “worse case discharge scenario,” component of the plan and allow agencies to identify and address any gaps in the plan, personnel or resources. Lessons learned from this exercise will further strengthen the Area Contingency Plan and better prepare the Florida Keys in the event of an actual major incident. No assets will be deployed, or field staff mobilized during this tabletop exercise.

“Our team of local planners and stakeholders have worked very hard this past year to update our Area Contingency Plan to include local and regional lessons learned after the Deepwater Horizon disaster,” said Capt. Pat DeQuattro, commander of Coast Guard Sector Key West and Federal On-Scene Coordinator. “I’m eager for this exercise to test our new plans, and to include additional feedback from our local partner agencies.”

In the exercise scenario, oil from a fictitious deepwater drilling platform in the Florida Straits threatens the Florida Keys. The manufactured scenario is one of low probability, but high consequence that will fully test the Florida Keys Area Contingency Plan and require participants to prioritize response resources.

The Florida Keys Area Committee, consisting of federal, state, and local responders, has been updating the plan to address new environmental threats posed by Deepwater exploration near the Florida Straits and lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010. Local scientific and resource experts have spent significant time updating geographic response maps and identifying resources at risk in the Florida Keys, including the locations of sensitive habitats and animals. The revised plan contains updated response and recovery strategies, such as boom and skimmer placement, risk sites, staging areas, and other information pertinent for responders.

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West updates the Florida Keys Area Contingency Plan on an annual basis. By continuously updating this document to adjust to ever-changing environmental conditions and threats, the Area Committee seeks to ensure the highest possible readiness and response posture in the Florida Keys. This most recent update to the Florida Keys Area Contingency Plan is the largest and most in-depth since its inception.

Tabletop exercise participants include:

U.S. Coast Guard District Seven, U.S. Coast Guard National Strike Force, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Naval Air Station Key West, Port Operations Department, Environmental Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA Office of Response and Restoration, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, National Weather Service, Florida Keys Area Committee, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Key West City Manager, Key West Mayor’s Office, Key West Fire Department, Key West Police Department, City of Key West Planning Department, Monroe County Department of Emergency Management, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Monroe County Department of Health, Key West Port Operations Department, City of Marathon, City of Key Colony, Port of Key West, Keys Energy, National Response Corp (NRC), Marine Spill Response Corp (MSRC), Dolphin Research Center, Dolphins Plus, Florida Keys Commercial Fisherman’s Association, Hawk’s Cay/Dolphin Connection, Marathon Turtle Hospital, Wild Bird Rescue, and Key West Bird Rescue.

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