Released: 1/30/2012 8:00 AM EST
Source: Nova Southeastern University
Newswise — FT. LAUDERDALE-DAVIE Fla. — Nova Southeastern University (NSU) and Florida International University (FIU) researchers have drafted a plan to best prepare South Florida for an oil spill off the coast of Cuba.
The proximity of intended Cuban oil drilling and production puts the U.S. coastal zone at risk from Florida to the Carolinas and northward. Oil from a spill would quickly enter the Gulf Stream and reach Florida’s shores in hours or days with potentially devastating effects on the densely populated South Florida coastline and its coastal ecosystems. South Florida’s accounts for 3.4 million jobs and 45 percent of the $587 billion contribution to Florida’s GDP generated by coastal and ocean economic activity.
A likely first impact of a major spill would be the iconic and economically valuable Florida Reef Track, a coral reef ecosystem that stretches from the Dry Torgugas in the Keys to Palm Beach County. Effects could be devastating to the ecology of the reef, Florida’s beaches, coastal property and South Florida’s economy.
The sustainability plan calls for a partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard, other federal agencies, and a consortium of South Florida academic institutions, including Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center, Florida International University, other schools, and private industry. The Coast Guard is the designated operational leader in any response to a Cuban oil spill.
Because an oil leak originating in Cuban waters will very quickly enter Florida waters, research, planning and preparation activities must be undertaken in advance of an accident so that authorities can respond effectively.
The conceptual plan —- a collaborative effort completed by Richard E. Dodge, Ph.D., dean of NSU’s Oceanographic Center, and John R. Proni, Ph.D., executive director of FIU’s Applied Research Center and others – was presented Monday in North Miami Beach to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. At the hearing, Proni provided oral and written testimony which contained the elements of the plan.
The following were the recommendations that were highlighted:
If this NSU-FIU long-term oil spill sustainability plan were to be implemented, it would involve the following elements:
About NSU’s Oceanographic Center: A world leader in marine biological research with focus on coral reef science and shark conservation, Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center has been at the forefront of graduate and undergraduate marine science education and oceanographic research for over 48 years. Students, scientists, faculty and staff come to the Center from all corners of the globe, with the common goal of learning from the ocean’s living classrooms — in one of the most diverse ecosystems known to man. http://www.nova.edu/ocean/
About Nova Southeastern University: Situated on 300 beautiful acres in Davie, Florida, Nova Southeastern University is a dynamic fully accredited research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at all levels. NSU is the eighth largest not-for-profit independent institution nationally with more than 28,000 students. NSU awards associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is one of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification. www.nova.edu
For more information, please contact:
Florida International University (FIU)
10555 W. Flagler St., EC 2100
Miami, FL 33174