Oil spill could cripple Florida tourism

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It’s anyone’s guess whether the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will reach the shores of South Florida, but if it does it could translate into a loss of $10 million a day for hotel, boating and fishing businesses in the area.

Authorities and forecasters says the spill is still days away, or may never get there, depending on the winds and Gulf currents, The Miami Herald reports.

The massive oil spill erupted after the April 20 explosion on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, killing 11 people. BP owns the leaking well in the northern Gulf.

On Monday, the spill was about 80 miles from the “loop current,” which gets its name from the fact that it loops around the eastern Gulf toward the Keys. The current then travels up South Florida’s east coast.

If the oil enters the loop current, it could take about 10 days to hit the Keys and even longer to reach Miami-Dade and Broward, Igor Kamenkovich, a professor at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, told the newspaper.

“It’s highly unpredictable,” said Kamenkovich. Any major changes in wind or weather patterns such as a cold front or a hurricane could change the forecast, he said.

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Comments

10 comments on “Oil spill could cripple Florida tourism

  1. Ed Foley

    I realized this possibility existed when the explosion and ensuing release was first reported. The 120-mile Florida Keys island chain is home to the continental United States’ only living-coral barrier reef. This teeming backbone of marine life runs the length of the Keys about five miles offshore and is irreplacable. All efforts must be made to prevent this slick and underwater cloud from reaching the Keys. If this happens, this 7,000 year old reef will die -and it won’t come back. One would have thought that with all the smart people in Washington, USCG, NOAA, and the petroleum industry that this ‘worst case scenerio’ would have been envisigned and a plan in place. The evidence that they did not have multiple fail-safes and a “doomsday’ plan frankly, is unacceptable.

  2. Sunshine State

    $10 million loss per day in fact could be relatively easily absorbed-a drop in the economic machine bucket.It would have to come to this- the sacrifice of a region could be accepted on a national basis in the name of “energy”. Drop by drop,county by county.
    Just a couple of weeks ago-in the midst of the swing to “Drill out there-later” call from Obama and Florida Governor Crist,a Florida enviro official cheerfully stated that any impact to the “Sunshine State” tourism economy would be mitigated because there would be other places in Florida for tourists to go……….
    Likely the losses could total much higher when all divided in to ‘daily’ basis.
    Think about it- a steady loss of natural resources,the fruits of “reduced government intervention’,’regulation’…and the process finally appears in the form of the bottom falling out of the boat business.Originating in the “Sportsmen” state.

  3. ex-disgruntled

    You are so right Mr. Foley…what a reality check to know they never even planned to think ahead!  Now the politicians can flip-flop around like they are totally surprised.  This needs remedied fast!  I live here in Florida and love the beach…forget the impact of tourism!

  4. Magnolia State

    South MS,AL, and Panhandle FL have started seeing a decrease in tourism and “marine oriented” retail business. I live and own a marine dealership in south MS and we have slowed down considerably in the past three weeks.

  5. don't worry

    What does the “drill baby drill” have to say now? Oh yea we have the old G.W.Fema guy trying to make himself look better by saying the O team wanted this ? It’s funny how the people that were pushing for more drilling are now quiet . or saying conspiracy. How about the masses are still using the same battery , combustion and electricity components that were the same as the 1800′s so the rich boys can get richer conspiracy?
      How about more technology research investment – if we were investing in this 20 years ago we would not need as much Oil . A simple advance in Battery technology could change the car and boat industry to the next level . In The end this will affect all the Gulf and East Coast and You and I will pay at the pump in the long run. Ask your politician if he ahs hugged petrol  lobbyist lately-

  6. john ennis

    So far BP gets a C for effort and a minus F for success. Anyone in Florida who relies on the Gulf for a livelyhood is in deeper economic danger then they currently are thrashing around in. Coastal tourism will end up in the trash can..hotels, restraunts..etc. commerical fishermen and recreational charters will be dry docked..But lets look at the domino effect. Unemployment in Florida which isalready among the highest in the nation will soar.So will forclosures, bankruptcies and  welfare payments. P.S. It was just a little over three years ago that a woman who headed up the largest state tourism organization wrote an editorial in her state publication endorsing oil wells  if they could’nt been seen from the beach.Wonder what Becky thinks now.

  7. Jack

    I have two questions, Why isn’t every oil company in the world not helping.  They should have created a Co-op to deal wih disasters, as this diaster will have consequences for all oil companies.  Second, why isn’t the federal goverment doing anything and everyting it can to keep the oil from reaching shore.  The quote,”don’t worry, BP will pay” doesn’t do it for me.  Maybe our current politcal team is more worried about making all those illegal imigrants into registered democrats than it is in saving the livelyhoods of the Amarican citizens in the gulf.

  8. RonWarp

    Ed Foley is correct on one level…..actually, he is quite optimistic! Let me explain……
    The Nation’s only ‘living’ coral reef is along the east and south sides of the Keys and is probably a lot more than 7,000 years old.  And, unfortunately, it is already well over 90% dead.  You see, I grew up in the Keys, and just moved after hurricane “Wilma” flooded the islands.  I have witnessed the death of the reef over a period of 35….geologically a ‘blink of the eye’ yet that is all the time it has taken mankind (i.e., the United States) to kill it off.  Many things have contributed to that….most of it was lack of foresight.  I don’t want to go on about the reef except to say Ed is correct to be worried mainly about the DISSOLVED PETROLEUM IN THE WATER COLUMN!!!
    The irresponsible use of dispersants UNDERWATER has created a never seen pollution scenario with regard to the spilling of oil in the oceans.  Most spills are a surface phenomenon….the tanker ruptures and the oil spills out.  BUT, most of this is contained in a zone of less than 10 feet underwater, generally.  Over time, this stabilizes to a few feet or less of surface pollution. This is much easier to collect than what is happening at Deepwater Horizon.
    Dispersants are chemicals designed to break up oil.  However, one of the ‘side effects’ is that now the petroleum is more easily dissolved in the water!!
    This is why it is against maritime pollution law to use dispersants without proper approval.  They can do a lot of damage if applied wrongly. But, using them UNDERWATER has created a situation that has not just allowed but exasperated the spill by helping dissolve more petroleum into the water than what would have naturally occurred.  As it is, a high pressure nozzle spewing crude oil 1 mile underwater is going to dissolve a good amount of the light components of the petroleum into the water column. By light components, I mean all the very volatile components of the petroluem.  The heavier, asphaltic materials will actually sink to the ocean floor, where they will contaminate shrimp, lobster and other benthic inhabitants. 
    But, back to that dissolved petroleum heading to the Keys…..that is going to be virtually impossible to control.  You could be a giant absorbent boom all around the Keys, and you won’t catch a thing.  Most of the petroleum pollution is now dissolved in the water!!  It will potentially contaminate anything in its path….that includes the reef, and the life that surrounds it.  And, I hate to mention that thanks to the reef already being stressed, this will just possibly be the “straw on the camel’s back” to finish off what we started in the 60′s in the Keys.
    All I can say is that the company(ies) involved in this are going to pay dearly to clean this particular spill!  NOW, maybe the public will put the pressure on their representatives to require better safeguards if petroleum is to be drilled from such dangerous areas.  We are now approaching the start of the hurricane season in just 20 days…..how ’bout a “Katrina”-level event just to add to the disaster we are witnessing?  Do you think the industry and/or Government is prepared for that?  And how many hundreds of wells are sunk in the Gulf of Mexico….all potential disasters waiting to happen if their holes blow out through negligence or equipment failure!
     

  9. The OilSorb State

    I think BP/Halibuton/Transocean and any others responsible should face criminal charges for this incident. I also think the Energy Commission that should have been overseeing events like this should sit next to the above companies and face the same charges. All that said we can whine about what should have been done but it won’t prevent what is happening already.
    Personally I think the previous attempts to stop or control the oil leak have not worked because BP does not want the final outcome to prevent this well from being usable in the future without having to start over again.
    I also don’t think BP is concerned about the $10Million a day they are spending or the the lawsuits they will face. When oil companies report profits of $6Billion for three months then there is little or no concern about the cost of this disaster. They have a drill rig drilling a relief pipeline expected to take 90 days. After 100 days BP will only have spent $1Billion dollars. Looks like they will have no problem making a profit still this year.

  10. CaptainA

    All I can say is this:
    The private sector caused this mess.   Let the private sector take care of cleaning it up.

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