Favorable winds and ocean currents are giving Floridians a reprieve from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and state officials said Monday that the slick was far from a loop current that could carry the crude around Florida and up the East Coast.
Although a cap on the blown-out well has halted the gush of crude oil for now, between 94 million and 184 million gallons have spewed since the April 20 blowout killed 11 Deepwater Horizon rig workers.
Mike Sole, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said a steady east wind has pushed the slick about 89 miles to the south and west of Florida's Panhandle. The slick is also about 300 miles from the loop current, a ribbon of warm water that runs from the Gulf of Mexico through the Florida Straits and up the Atlantic coast.
Sole and U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Joe Boudrow, the point man in Florida for the Coast Guard's response to the oil spill, said the state still has many concerns about tar and oil than began washing up on its beaches in early June. A lot of oil remains in the water and officials are focused on how to best fight it as hurricane season heightens, Boudrow said.
Officials were monitoring two tropical waves in the Caribbean that could become hurricanes, Sole said. If the storms develop, they are considering what sections of more than 400,000 feet of boom to remove first and how to most-efficiently evacuate workers.