Collier, Lee county commissioners hear measures to protect local coasts from oil spill

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They’re prepared for the worst.

That’s the message emergency management officials in Collier and Lee counties sent to their commissioners Tuesday during updates about the Gulf oil spill.

Emergency management officials were on hand Tuesday at commission meetings in Collier and Lee counties to update commissioners on the local efforts to protect the areas if oil reaches Southwest Florida’s coast.

Dan Summers, Collier County’s emergency services director, told Collier County commissioners that the county plans to work with BP, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, as well as federal and state authorities to protect area waters.

The county has also notified local environmental groups of potential dangers, and has contacted government officials to make them aware of the county’s 10 inlets that could be a potential danger zone.

“We are at top readiness posture today,” Summers said.

Lee County commissioners on Tuesday were briefed by officials with CrowderGulf, the county’s oil spill protection contractor, about the county’s ability to protect its coast.

John Campbell, CrowderGulf’s senior project manager, said his team needs 24 hours to three days to mobilize after it’s been called to action. But Campbell said people shouldn’t be concerned about it taking too long to mobilize, since coastal communities will know well in advance if the oil is approaching their shores.

“We are fully prepared and ready to come to Lee County’s assistance,” Campbell said.

Protecting the shores may not be as easy as tossing boom into the water, though.

Summers said if the oil reaches Collier County, booms will not be the primary methodology for protecting the beaches.

“Understand that booming is for heavy sheen product on the surface, that’s what the northern counties are faced with,” Summers said. “If the spill comes this far south, it will be a very weathered product and the boom will not be effective.”

Residents could see tar balls or tar patties if that happens, something that isn’t an easy fix.

“To tell you that there’s an easy fix or an easy remediation isn’t correct, yet if, and I say if, any of this ends up here, we’re ready to work,” Summers said.

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