ST. PETERSBURG -— Gov. Charlie Crist visited the St. Petersburg-based command center that will coordinate the west coast of Florida's efforts to respond to the Gulf oil spill, and he said he's pleasantly surprised the oil hasn't reached the Sunshine State yet.
"It has not impacted the west coast or any coast of Florida directly yet … thank God for that. Frankly, I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet," Crist said.
"I dare say this has the potential to be the largest single environmental and economic disaster in the history of Florida," Crist said.
The governor has called for a special session of the Florida Legislature for a permanent ban on drilling in gulf waters. As to those who call that a political publicity stunt, Crist said, "I would say that's unfortunately childish. This is a serious situation, and we need to deal with it in a serious fashion."
U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Timothy Close said the command post is ready to begin training for county environmental officials and others so they can better respond to an oil spill. He said a "vessel decontamination" plan also has been developed so ships that have crossed through the oil spill can be cleaned up before coming into ports in the Tampa Bay area.