Coast Guard plans to let oil hit the beach, “No booms in Florida Keys;

Sunday, June 27, 2010
By Paul Martin
June 26th, 2010

Unified Command: No oil booms in the Keys, Florida Keys Keynoter, June 26, 2010:

A barricade of oil-containment booms would do little to protect the Florida Keys and the coral reef, local response coordinators said this week.

For that reason, don’t expect to see a barricade of booms strung through local waters should oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster reach the Keys. …

Capt. Captain Pat DeQuattro, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West… [said, “]Booms are not effective measures to protect shorelines and beaches against tar balls.”

Since tar balls usually have a neutral buoyancy, the oil globs “can easily slip beneath containment booms.”

“We’re learning from other regions in the Gulf of Mexico that while booms work well for fresh oil in the water, they have very limited value once the oil has weathered,” he said.

In the Keys, DeQuattro said, “Booming is likely to be more harmful than helpful to the environment.” Marine scientists have voiced similar opinions.

Placing oil booms near the reef or mangroves has the potential to damage other aspects of the marine ecosystem, especially if they come loose, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary staffer Scott Donahue said at a June 15 forum. Booms also could hinder marine navigation in the Keys, where boat traffic is heavy, DeQuattro said.

Any booms placed in Keys waters would need federal and state approval. Residents and businesses putting booms in the water without required permits could face sanctions and possibly civil liability.

DeQuattro emphasized that as of this weekend, “There are no near-term impact risks [from the oil spill] for the Florida Keys.” …

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