Oil to hit shores in PBC in 30 days

Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - We now know that it's just a matter of time until oil hits our coastline. Palm Beach County's Local Action Plan spells out what the county will do when we start seeing that oil.

This six-page Local Action Plan has been several weeks in the making. Although, some of the details still have to be worked, for the first time county officials actually have something on paper to deal with the oil spill.

"We've got a good plan, we got a lot of dedicated staff, we have an incident command system that's set up so I think we're ready to respond to the tarballs," said Assitant Palm Beach County administrator, Vince Bonvento.

Bonvento says Palm Beach County will not see the thick, peanut-butter like goop that has stained the shoreline in Alabama and Louisiana. But we will see tarballs. "We can anticipate some tar balls or tar mats probably hitting our coastal area in maybe 30 days."

The county will use netting or screens in the intracoastal to collect tarballs, and BP will hire people to pick them up on our beaches. Bonvento discourages people from picking up tarballs themselves saying, "I think if they just get out there and start doing their own thing, its gonna be a lot of chaos and they're not gonna know where to dispose of the tar balls."

Authorities have come up with a Palm Beach County Local Action Plan. It establishes a chain of command for the cleanup, steps on how the cleanup will be done, and a plan to take water samples. They'll use netting or screens in the intracoastal to collect tarballs.

Experts do not feel we will get the peanut-buttery oily goo that is washing up on the coast of Alabama and Louisiana and coating all those birds and pelicans. But we will see tarballs.
BP will hire and train people to pick up the tarballs on Palm Beach County's beaches.

"Right now, the way it's set up is BP is going to hire individuals here locally, they're gonna train 'em and they're gonna pay for 'em. And they'll be employed by BP to clean the beaches up. We're just concerned about you know, whether they're gonna have enough," Bonvento continued.

But if BP falls short, Bonvento says, he's working on a plan to get county and municipal workers out on the beach, if necessary to clean up tarballs in palm beach county saying, "I think probably what we would do is have a cleaning day on a Friday or something like that and rather than have the employees work in their workplace, they would just report to designated beach locations and help clean the beaches."

Meanwhile, a state lawmaker from Delray Beach Tuesday sent letters to the Governor and President Obama. She's asking that Palm Beach County be given federal and state money for clean up and to study what effects the oil spill could have internationally on our tourism industry.

State Representative Maria Sachs told us, "I want to be sure that Palm Beach County is up on the plate to get some of this information and funds."She says she wants money from BP too explaining, "This is Palm Beach County, the only county in the entire state of Florida that has "beach" in its name. And we will be prepared and I just want to be sure that they help us out with that."

A local oil spill clean-up task force will meet Thursday afternoon at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center.

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