MIAMI — The Emergency Support Function 10 (ESF 10) Florida, consisting of multiple state and federal agencies, is continuing efforts to assess and remove hazards in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission members are conducting assessments of damaged and sunken vessels in the areas most affected by Hurricane Irma. These assessments assist in providing an overarching image to the unified command of the effects of the storm, allowing for the effective placement of assets, expediting the response process.
“The response to Irma is a collaborative effort,” said Benjamin Franco, Environmental Protection Agency Incident Commander for the response. “Every member of this team, both local, state and federal, is bringing to bear all of their expertise, experience, and the assets necessary for an expeditious conclusion to this response. Our hearts go out to those citizens impacted by Hurricane Irma and we will make every effort to ensure their needs are being addressed.”
“This command has found that all sunk and derelict vessels resulting from Hurricane Irma are a threat to the environment and our mission is to remove this threat,” said Cmdr. JoAnne Hanson, Coast Guard Incident Commander for the response. “The first priority is to remove actively polluting vessels. Second to that are the vessels that aren’t actively polluting, but where a potential for pollution exists.”
The following list represents an approximate number of vessels impacted by Hurricane Irma currently being assessed by each ESF 10 Branch Hazardous Material Assessment Team as of Sept. 25, 2017. These numbers are subject to change as more owners salvage their vessels and additional vessels are discovered in the affected areas and offshore assessments are conducted.
Vessels assessed: 200; Vessels removed: 43
St. Petersburg, Florida
Vessels assessed: 182; Vessels removed: 42
Vessels assessed: 134; Vessels removed: 26
Key West, Florida
Vessels assessed: 336; Vessels removed: 1
Due to the complexity and scale of operational requirements, the Unified Command for ESF 10 Florida has established a Joint Information Center. Media members are requested to call 305-985-2867 to receive the most timely and accurate information concerning the on-going response to Hurricane Irma.
The Unified Command consists of U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. JoAnne Hanson serving as Incident Commander, Mr. Benjamin Franco, Environmental Protection Agency Incident Commander, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Capt. David Schaffer as State On-Scene Coordinator and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Environmental Administrator Kent Edwards as State On-Scene Coordinator. Currently, response teams are conducting assessments of the most affected areas to include the ports and waterways from Jacksonville, Florida to Miami, Key West, and around to St. Petersburg.
The ESF 10 is the framework by which federal support is coordinated with state agencies in response to actual or potential oil spills or hazardous material releases. Partner agencies, including Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, are contributing expertise and experience to the assessment efforts.