7/1 UPDATE: As of today, not much has changed since the previous update regarding the oil's impact to the state of Florida. But those impacts are not insignificant. The Youtube video we posted below shows that there has definitely been some impact to Florida beaches, most notably Pensacola Beach. And with a storm stirring up Gulf waters, and hurricane season still in its early stages, it's reasonable to assume that Florida will continue to feel the effects for awhile. In fact, with Youtube videos showing kids on Florida beaches with oil stuck to their feet, it's safe to say that the tourism-dependent state is feeling the effects already.
To that end, Gov. Charlie Crist is seeking some further assistance from BP. On June 30, Gov. Crist sent a letter to BP America's Doug Suttles requesting an additional $50 million to support an advertising and marketing campaign for Florida. (The state has already exhausted the $25 million BP previously provided for this.) I'm not sure a marketing campaign can overcome the power of a few Youtube videos, but it appears that the governor believes it's worth a shot. You can view the governor's letter here.
Also, Sam Barnes, editor of our sister publication, South Central Construction, has posted a blog about the potential "Great Oil-Cane of 2010." Check it out here.
Engineering News-Record's most recent summary of developments in the Gulf of Mexico, posted online June 30, likewise focuses on Alex and the potential impact of future storms. You can read this report here.
Finally, there are reports that a massive container ship is being tested in the Gulf of Mexico by BP to skim oil from the affected regions. The owner of the Taiwanese ship says it can process 15 million gallons of water per day. According to BP, the total amount of oily water processed to date is roughly 30 million gallons.
More updates to come as the situation warrants.
6/29 UPDATE: In an effort to prevent oil from entering Florida’s inland waterways, Okaloosa Co., Fla., is moving forward with a pair of related efforts funded by $500,000 from BP to block oil at Destin Pass.
According to Kathy Newby, public information officer for Okaloosa Co., the first approach—estimated to cost $300,000—involves the use of barges and boom to block the oil from entering Destin Pass (also known as East Pass) and flowing into Destin Harbor and also Choctawhatchee Bay. The bay connects to Santa Rosa Sound in Fort Walton Beach, and connects to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Newby says the original plan was to ballast the barges so that they would sit about 3 ft lower than usual in the water. Boom with curtains would attach to the barges and funnel the oil for collection. Newby added that the county could also use the barges to fully close the pass.
“This is a work in progress,” she says. “Our overall plan is to have multiple layers of protection. We’re trying to keep it out of the inland waterways.”
The other project involves placing a pipeline on the seafloor. The pipeline, to be placed in the proximity of the barges, will be perforated and generate a stream of air bubbles to serve as a further oil barrier. It also is intended to push up any subsurface oil and enable it to be skimmed.
Coastal Planning & Engineering, an engineering firm based in Boca Raton, Fla., is overseeing both efforts on behalf of Okaloosa Co.
6/25 UPDATE: A video posted to YouTube shows boiling-like effects in the surf of oil-stained Pensacola Beach, Fla. We'll check out what this may mean. Meanwhile, here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qO193f8xAls
6/24 UPDATE: On June 23, an oily slick referred to as "mousse" was found to have hit the Florida tourist destination of Pensacola Beach. A media advisory from the state’s emergency response team described the length of the affected area as 3 mi; however, the St. Petersburg Times reported it measured 8 mi in length.
Cleanup crews rolled on site later that day, and removed an estimated 8 tons of oil spill waste, according to the Miami Herald.
Also on June 23, the Santa Rosa Island Authority, the governing body that oversees Pensacola Beach, issued a health warning and described the situation as "significant quantities of emulsified oil … in the near shore waters and coming ashore along much of the Gulf front on Pensacola Beach."
The state reported that five state-leased skimmers have begun operating in northwest Florida to protect sensitive inland water bodies. These skimmers are operating at the passes in Escambia, Okaloosa, Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties.
Additionally, as of June 23, approximately 367,000 ft of boom has been placed in northwest Florida as part of the state response and another 176,300 ft was staged. According to the state, counties have further deployed or staged 315,061 ft of supplemental boom.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist toured the area on Wednesday, joining environmental advocate Philippe Cousteau and Dennis Takahashai-Kelso, the former Alaska Commissioner of Environmental Conservation at the time of the Exxon Valdez spill, in an inspection of the impacted area.
"We must use every opportunity and every resource to confront the oil spill and its potentially devastating impact on our shores and familities," Gov. Crist said in a press statement.
Takahashai-Kelso stated: "As the BP Deepwater Horizon oil slick continues to make landfall in Florida—nearly a generation after the Exxon Valdez—we need to focus on the most important steps to reduce harm to coastal ecosystems and the people who depend on them."
Meanwhile, there was some good news. The state cited reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that indicated that no significant amounts of oil are moving toward the Loop Current. The Loop Current brings water from the Gulf of Mexico through the Florida Keys and up the eastern seaboard.
For the latest news, analysis, opinion and multimedia about the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, check out ENR's dedicated Oil Spill Page.