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Panel to approach County for emergency oil planning

By Staff | Jun 16, 2010

The Captiva Community Panel is taking a step in securing Captiva’s beaches in the event that oil or spill-related debris washes ashore.

During the panel’s June meeting on Tuesday, an update from Captiva Erosion Prevention District administrator Kathy Rooker prompted panel members to discuss Captiva’s course of action should oil reach Captiva.

“Right now we are working with out engineers, Coastal Planning and Engineering. We have a draft contingency plan to deal with any encroachment of oil on Captiva. We also have a response plan that we’re going to submit to the Lee County EOC [Emergency Operations Center] first and then that will go on to the DEP [Department of Environmental Protection,” Rooker said.

Rooker also urged attendees to volunteer to help in any way they can in the event of an oil emergency — even if someone is unable to help clean the beach, Rooker said that everything from providing parking space to transport will be essential to the clean up effort.

CEPD chairman Mike Mullins added to Rooker’s update by urging members of the community to make their voices heard.

“Kathy is pleading with everyone to please try to help and we need all the help we can possibly get. If we don’t do it, this will be Hurricane Charley all over again. Lee County thinks of us as an afterthought and we need more involvement than that,” Mullins said.

There was confusion over who would be in charge of an emergency clean up if oil — or tar balls — would appear on Captiva’s beaches.

Panel member Rick Hayduk suggested that the panel take matters into their own hands by writing to Lee County.

“Might it not be an idea to use the panel as a conduit to send a note to the Lee County Commissioners and say, ‘We’d like to know who is the go-to person or organization or department is before anything really hits the fan,'” Hayduk said.

Dave Jensen agreed. “I say let’s immediately ask the County to tell us who that go-to person is and then let’s get the community together and go from there. Our first step is to find out who that person is.”

“I love the fact that the CEPD and Captiva is coming up with a back-up plan,” Hayduk continued, “but the problem I foresee is that someone might walk in and say they’re not going to follow that plan once all the work has been done.”

Mullins noted that if the CEPD plan is rejected, he hopes to get feedback from the EOC and DEP as to what would make for an acceptable plan.

Panel member Nathalie Pyle motioned to have panel administrator Ken Gooderham “draft a letter requesting that Lee County identify who will be in charge in the event of imminent oil coming onto the shores of Captiva.”

Part of the motion included that the letter be sent to other island businesses and organizations — including the Captiva Civic Association, Captiva Fire Island Control District and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation — for their approval and support.

The motion carried unanimously.

Gooderham said he would draft the letter and submit it to the various businesses and organizations so that the letter could be sent to the County commissioners before they break for July.

For more information about the Captiva Community Panel, go to www.captivacommunitypanel.com.