Letter to Santa Rosa County Residents from Commissioner Goodin Regarding Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Thursday, 17 June 2010 07:11
Last Updated on Friday, 18 June 2010 14:48
The days since we first learned of the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill have been an emotional rollercoaster ride for us all. It is difficult not to be fearful, sad, angry and frustrated with what has taken place.
From the beginning, we have known that we would most likely see some type of impact from the oil spill on our beaches and we have been consistently reassured by BP and unified command that the proper resources to protect our vital and sensitive bays and estuaries were in place. However, the recent limited success of the Pensacola Pass booming and the system currently in place for our inshore response has affected our level of confidence. We are unsure what type of oil products may make their way to our shores and are dumfounded as to why more resources have not been pre-positioned in our area to respond.
From the onset of this event, we knew that the magnitude and command structure meant that we could not respond as a stand alone entity, nor did we have the staff or financial resources to do so effectively. Hurricanes have taught us well that in any emergency, information and plans can change very rapidly as the incident unfolds. In a hurricane event, the county and state response system works extremely well. However with the oil spill, we often feel helpless and angry at BP and the federal response through unified command, because of their response to these changes and their ability to communicate clearly and effectively to us what is actually happening.
I want to ensure the citizens of Santa Rosa County that we are not sitting and waiting for someone else to take care of us. It has been our belief and it has been proven over the last few weeks, that no-one knows our county and its waterways, tides, and wildlife as well as those who live here. Over the last month and a half, your commission and your county staff have spent countless man hours working through the response system. We have tried to listen, research, and make fiscally sound requests to protect our over 88 miles of coast line- some requests were approved and others denied. As we continue to prepare for the unknown, I wanted to update our residents on our recent actions:
- Three of our additional boom sites were approved today including: Mulat Bayou- 775 feet of boom, Soundside Drive Bayous in - 520 feet of boom, and the extreme eastern portion of East River in Holley- 1,900 feet of boom.
- Our county protection analysis group is looking again at the feasibility of utilizing filter fabric in some of the sensitive grassy shoreline to determine the effectiveness against submerged tarballs. In the past, concerns have been the ability to keep this type of material in place, actual effectiveness, and most of all the damage that might be caused by the physical placement and maintenance of such material. Tidal flows can exert a tremendous force that can dislodge even well anchored material.
- A request has been made to unified command for double booming of most of the areas that are currently boomed.
- A request has been made to pre-position reconnaissance and recovery assets near the Pensacola Pass due to the reoccurrence of product in the Pensacola Bay.
- After verifying each boom location on Saturday morning, we noticed that the boom was not being maintained properly and we developed a plan for local water reconnaissance teams to check boom daily and provide reports on possible oil product sightings, including photos and GPS coordinates.
- A staff member from Santa Rosa County Emergency Management was placed in Unified Command on June 12 located in Mobile, AL to represent Santa Rosa, Escambia and Okaloosa counties and help ensure rapid response and better communications between the counties and Unified Command. Each county will have the option to send a staff member to represent the three county area, rotating every seven days. We hope this position will be able to evaluate the source of the operational and planning issues that we have been so frustrated by over the last month, and pinpoint changes we can request to improve the response to protect Santa Rosa County waters.
- We will continue to issue the latest information as we know it and update our Deepwater Horizon Webpage at www.santarosa.fl.gov.
I recognize what I have shared with you does little to abate the fears we all share, and does little to guarantee that our inland waters will not be impacted. What I am confident of is the strength of our community, which lies in our citizens' ability to overcome adversity. As this event continues to unfold, I am sure that the emotional roller coaster will continue to have highs and lows for us all. I promise each and every resident that we will continue to work long hours to push for change and the additional resources that we feel is needed to respond to this event from the unified command and our state and federal officials.
Commission Chair & District 4 Commissioner
Santa Rosa County