STC statement on the current oil spill disaster

Date: May 4, 2010
Contact: David Godfrey
Phone: (352) 373-6441

The current oil spill disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to have unprecedented economic and environmental impacts. Our office has received many calls and emails from concerned citizens, supporters and members wondering what STC is doing to respond to the disaster. They have also asked about the impacts to marine turtles and how they can help.

At the moment, there isn’t much STC can do but wait until there are known impacts to beaches, sea grass beds and/or sea turtles, and until the federal authorities directing the recovery effort make it known where they can use volunteers. We are prepared to direct volunteers and limited amounts of emergency funding toward the response if that becomes necessary. We are also placing information on our website that may help inform others about the disaster and the impacts.

The overall response effort, including recovery and treatment of affected wildlife, is being coordinated by federal agencies. We are in close contact with colleagues with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, who will keep us updated on the spill’s impact to sea turtles and nesting beaches. For the moment, they are asking us to be patient and not to send eager volunteers to particular coastal areas.

Working directly on oil-impacted beaches requires specialized training in the handling of hazardous waste. Much of this work will be done by specially-trained federal staff members, with assistance from the Coast Guard and National Guard; however, additional volunteers may be needed in the future. Once we know if and where volunteers are needed, we will announce that information through our website and E-mail lists.

As you can imagine, this issue is evolving hour by hour as the impacts of the spill gradually reach coastal areas. We are doing our best to stay on top of the latest news so we can respond in an appropriate manner at the appropriate time.

For the last year STC has been very engaged in the often contentious public policy debate in Florida over whether or not to end the 20 year ban on drilling in Florida’s near shore waters. STC has testified at legislative committee meetings, met with legislative leaders and the Governor’s staff, and taken part in weekly planning meetings with a broad spectrum of conservation groups concerned about allowing drilling so close to the states beaches, reefs, and sea grass beds. The tragedy unfolding in the Gulf must result in enlightened policy going forward. Clearly, we can not accept the myth that advances in drilling technology removes the risks of a major spill or that the clean up capabilities of the oil industry are sufficient to protect the myriad marine habitats and hundreds of wildlife species in the Gulf. Rest assured, that while STC will focus whatever resources are necessary to address the current spill, we will also continue working to maintain and strengthen the current restrictions on drilling adjacent to our coastline.

We will be posting information about the current spill response and try to keep you informed as we learn more.

US Dept of Interiro Deepwater Horizon Response & Restoration website
NOAA Gulf Spill Resortation website
Information about Sea Turtles and Oil
Sea Turtle Researchers Prepare For The Worst From BP Oil Spill – Radio Interview on WUFT-FM