Easterly and southeasterly winds have kept the oil spill plume away from us this week with nothing more than a few scattered pieces of oil soaked debris coming ashore up and down Panama City Beach. As recently as last weekend, we had landfall of tarballs from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that’s still discharging into the gulf.
Bay County is being very proactive in minimizing any impact that we may see from the oil spill in Panama City Beach and our surrounding areas. Efforts include building a complex boom gate system in the pass to limit any “product” from entering inland water ways, ordering 13 beach rakes (3 on their way, 10 more ordered), 4 skimmers working 7 miles off shore skimming product as it nears, and over 300 BP contractors are patrolling the beach non-stop surveying for any signs of oil making landfall. Over the last couple days, contractors have begun nighttime operations as well with over 1,000 more people ready to be deployed for cleanup efforts if and when needed.
Live beach updates.
Every morning I’m going to the beach at 8:30 am cst streaming live from my iPhone. The video and audio quality is sub par, but it works, none the less.
You can see our live stream at Ustream.tv/channel/pcbdaily
We’ve seen some significant growth on our Facebook page the last couple weeks. When we have new information, we’re posting it here.
You can “Like” us on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/pcbdaily
From Bay County.
- No tarballs or other oil products washing ashore were reported to the Bay County Emergency Operations Center on Thursday.
- Four skimmers are working seven miles offshore near Bay County in an effort to remove as much oil as possible to prevent landfall. The skimmers are part of an “inshore task force,” Bay County Emergency Services Chief Mark Bowen said, even though they are not visible from land. He said one drum skimmer is currently staged in Bay County, and the county is continues to work toward a contract for additional skimmers.
- U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Steve Poulin held a press conference at the Panama City Marina staging area Thursday afternoon. Capt. Poulin is the Incident Commander for the Coast Guard’s Mobile District, and is responsible for overseeing the Coast Guard activities in Bay County, along with several other Florida counties in the Panhandle. He said that much progress is being made at the actual Deepwater Horizon well site, and that a cap collecting 25,000 to 29,000 barrels of oil per day has been replaced, after a robot disrupted that process Wednesday. He said he is looking at ways to include local government more, following a meeting Wednesday in Ft. Walton with area county officials, including Bay County.
“I heard loud and clear their desire to be included in our operations,” Poulin said, noting that the command structure has been revamped to include a Coast Guard and BP deputy incident commander for various new “branches” divided geographically. He said the new structure should help streamline relief efforts.
- BP contractors remain working on Bay County beaches. BP Community Outreach Coordinator Vani Rao said Wednesday that some 300 BP contractors are currently working Bay County beaches during the daylight hours, and the company has begun nighttime operations as well. She said several hundred more BP workers are coming, and there could be as many as 1,000 here as the cleanup progresses.
- Two decontamination stations inside the bay for recreational vessels are being identified, though they are not built out, according to U.S. Coast Guard Commander Mike Frender. Two decontamination stations are also staged in the gulf, with one located three miles south of the St. Andrews Pass and another seven miles south of the pass. Those stations are for commercial, military, response and recreational vessels that are actively sheening as a result of contact with oil product. Once they are operable, mariners should avoid using the stations inside the bay if possible and should make every attempt to utilize the stations in the Gulf, Frender said. Boaters whose vessels may have been affected by contact with oil may contact the U.S. Coast Guard on their VHF radios at Channel 16 or Channel 71. A new website, created by BP, lists vessel decontamination locations within the U.S. Coast Guard Mobile Sector for oiled boats.
- BP has contracted TriState Bird Rescue and Research to perform all oiled wildlife rehabilitation for the event. There is a stabilization center in Panama City. If people see oiled wildlife, they need to report it to the oiled wildlife hotline 866-557-1401. BP has contracted responders who are to respond to reports within an hour of the call being received, according to a statement from the state Emergency Operations Center. Problems with response times may be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org. Oiled wildlife may also be reported to the local Bay County hotline at 248-6030.
- The public is asked to report suspected oil sightings on Bay County shores or in the Gulf to Bay County’s hotline at (850) 248-6030, rather than calling 9-1-1, as the emergency response system is for life-and-death situations, and Unified Command can better respond to beach cleanup requests if the local number is used.
Resources I use.
- Sert Gator – a real time map that shows where oil is being reported. I look at this several times a day.
- Bay County Newsletter – They are sending these updates out everyday around 6 pm. There is always useful and up to date information included.
- Bay County Emergency Operations Incident Plan – Always has up to date information regarding the Gulf oil spill as it relates to Bay County.
- Florida DEP Updates – New updates usually twice daily