Introducing the Oil Spill Co-op
The inland waters around Fort Myers Beach provide countless hours of pleasure for boaters from around the country but disaster can strike at any time. A ruptured fuel tank could spill hundreds, even thousands, of gallons of gasoline or diesel fuel into the water, endangering wildlife, damaging the ecology or threatening property and life.
In 1991, to help prevent such a catastrophe, the state of Florida began requiring local communities to either maintain first-response capabilities themselves or contract with outside experts to provide those first response services.
The Ostego Bay Environmental Response Co-op was created in 1992 to meet those state requirements. The all-volunteer group, consisting primarily of local marinas and commercial fishermen, is licensed and inspected by the state and operates under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Similar to a volunteer fire department, each member of the co-op is required to have at least one qualified first response person on staff and available for emergencies.
The co-op holds regular meetings 8 to 10 times per year and the training sessions involve representatives from the Coast Guard, the Florida Marine Patrol, the LeeCounty Department of Marine Science and other related agencies. The training sessions consist of two days of classroom instruction and several days of on-the-water containment practice.
In addition, the co-op has contracted with Cape Canaveral Marine Services, Inc., a specialized company dealing with hazardous spills. Cape Canaveral Marine Services provides backup for the Ostego Bay Environmental Response Co-op either by assisting with any first-response requirements or by providing additional assistance for clean-up and remedial action activities. The contract calls for the company to respond within one hour for initial containments and within four hours for clean-up and remedial actions.
In fact, the co-op's record is so good that the Coast Guard and the state have recognized the Ostego Bay Environmental Response Co-op as being a model co-op for other first-response programs around the state and country.
Ostego Bay Foundation, Inc. - A member supported organization