Government agencies prepare for potential spill impacts

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The United States Coast Guard at Sector St. Petersburg, Fla. and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have been actively preparing for possible marine pollution effects from the spill associated with the sinking of the mobile offshore drilling unit, Deepwater Horizon, on April 22, 2010.

Early on, President Barack Obama directed responding agencies to not only devote every resource to respond to this incident, but to also determine its cause. Also, this event has been deemed as a spill of national significance, which allows the federal government to mobilize additional personnel and assets to fight the spill.

The Coast Guard, federal and state partners in Florida are teaming with others to actively monitor all waters from the Fenholloway River, in Taylor County south to Everglades City, Fla., for any impacts from the spill. On April 28, 2010, initial environmental protection planning efforts began by hosting a joint meeting with several pollution response trusties.

At the meeting the group reviewed highly sensitive areas in northern coastal Florida and prepared pollution response strategies. On Tuesday, May 4, a meeting with key environmental groups will be held to share information and discuss pollution mitigation.

“We are working hard to coordinate with all stakeholders well ahead of any impact to our area. If the oil comes this way, we want to seamlessly connect with our partnering agencies and key environmental groups to ensure we are all operating as efficiently as possible,” said Cmdr. Tim Haws, chief of response at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.

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