South Florida Sunshine



Key West Taking Oil Spill Cleanup Into Own Hands – Repost from Tonic

The wonderful folks at Tonic.com have given me permission to pass on this fabulous article by Katie Leavitt originally posted on Tonic TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 2010 6:00 AM ET

Tired of waiting for BP or the government to do something, Florida Keys residents are organizing on their own terms.

The sunsets. The famous lineage of writers and artists. Key West is the southernmost tip of the United States, and at more than 100 miles from the mainland, the island has a unique culture all its own.

The community and location of Key West naturally lends itself to a strong state of independence, and when it comes to protecting their beloved ocean, coral reefs and plant and wildlife, these islanders will not take the laid-back approach.

The citizens of Key West are not happy with the way BP has approached the cleanup of Deepwater Horizon’s oil spill. With the possibility of the oil reaching Key West in the next few weeks, residents have decided to organize their own efforts. They are choosing to focus on preventative measures rather than wait around for the oil to reach their shores before any action takes place.

This is where Key West residents have an issue with BP and the bureaucratic red tape that makes it nearly impossible to take early steps. For example, BP’s Deepwater Horizon’s Unified Command, working with the US Coast Guard, demands that it maintain complete control over cleanup actions.

Despite regulations, thousands of volunteers and hundreds of boat captains have signed up to help out through the site KeysSpill.com. However, BP insists that boat captains can only contribute by signing up through their own Unified Command’s Vessels of Opportunity program. Dan Robey, owner of KeysSpill, told Time that he thinks the BP program is a complete waste, with only a third of their boats prepared for service.

The island community is determined to begin protecting their ecosystem no matter what, but are trying to work out a few kinks with BP. So far progress has been limited to the hiring of one sentry boat operator and the offer to pay up to $10,000 for the mandatory hazmat training needed before volunteers can deal with the oil.

Clearly, residents feel they must be prepared to take matters into their own hands. After all, many of the local fisherman, scientists and area natives have extensive knowledge about the corals and ocean life that are unique to the waters surrounding the island.

In addition to Robey’s volunteers, Adopt a Mangrove is assigning kayakers their own mangrove tree to clean. Florida Keys Environmental Coalition was born in order to connect environmental activists, scientists and boat captains, while volunteers are already working to clean up the beaches so they are easier to clean should oil the arrive.

Patrick Rice, dean of marine science and technology at Florida Keys Community College, has another plan he wants to see implemented. By placing air hoses with holes into the water, the air bubbles would block at least some of the oil from reaching the reefs and mangroves.

The people of the Keys, no matter what protocols may be in place, are determined to do all they can to be prepared for possible oil damage. “I just talked with BP yesterday,” Rice told Time. “I told them flat out, ‘If you come down here and start doing what you’ve done in Louisiana, you’re going to have a revolt. They’ll shut down U.S. 1. You won’t be able to bring any of your contractors in or out.'”

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Comments

  1. If anything can re-unite the Conch Republic enough to rise up again and declare its independence, this is it. The oil companies need to know this is where line in the sand really and truly gets drawn.

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 6 months ago


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